Written by Tim Clancy
No-one can argue that the southern Europeans have a different approach to driving from most. Bosnia and Herzegovina is no exception. Whereas the madness of driving in Rome, for example, may have some sort of Zen energy to it, driving in Bosnia does not. Here are a few tips on what to expect.
Bosnians love to overtake on solid white lines. It’s a common practice, especially on curves – don’t fret too much over it; they’re good at it.
If a Bosnian driver sees a friend, whether walking or in a car, he will stop and chat – in the middle of the road – until he is done. Don’t bother honking; he’ll either curse you or simply ignore you. You just have to wait.
At intersections where you feel you have the right of way, approach with caution. Local drivers will often pull halfway out into the intersection, blocking one half and aggressively nudge into your lane. Sometimes they’ll respect the right of way, sometimes not. Defensive driving is the key phrase.
Pedestrians, especially at zebra crossings, have no right of way whatsoever. Bosnian drivers may even speed up so be careful walking and if you do stop at a pedestrian crossing don’t be confused by the dazed look of the pedestrian staring at you for being the first car to stop at these crossings in his/her lifetime.
Zebra crossings, like this one in Sarajevo, are treated as a guide rather than a rule in Bosnia © Expert Infantry, Wikimedia Commons
Even though there may be 3m of open pavement, Bosnians love to walk in the road. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way it is. You will find this defiance in smaller towns that experience less traffic but don’t be too shocked if in the middle of Sarajevo or Mostar someone is walking in the middle of the street completely unconcerned with the fact that you are behind them…waiting.
Bosnian men are particularly fond of their cars but are less so of Bosnia’s beautiful nature. If you see large bags of rubbish being hauled out of a car window, that is simply the driver keeping his car clean. God forbid he should have a dirty car.
Most of Bosnia’s roads are only double lane. When stuck behind a lorry climbing a hill, close the windows – the diesel fumes can kill. Most drivers stuck behind will attempt daredevil overtaking of the lorry – use your best judgement.
Last warning – along any road in Bosnia and Herzegovina you might see a policeman on the side of the road holding a little lollipop like a stop sign. He may convincingly hold it out and stop you or may just nonchalantly wave it. Stop anyway and don’t let the policeman talk you into paying a fine, unless of course you were speeding like the rest of them. Play the dumb foreigner and try to get out of it. Most policemen are either just looking for coffee money or to give you a hard time, simply because they can. Even if they appear serious or mean, policemen can always be spoken to here (unlike the Florida Highway Patrol that approaches you with hand on gun for speeding).
Whether you’re ready to get behind the wheel in Bosnia or still want to find out more, enjoy a 10% discount on our guide to the country: