Driving in Hungary is an experience. Especially for an American or Canadian driver who is accustomed to stop signs. In these countries, most of us dutifully come to a full stop before turning right or left even if no one is approaching on the other road. But stop signs are a rare phenomenon in Europe. There the "right-of-way rule" determines who goes first. This can be very dangerous, especially if two people can’t quite decide who has the right of way. Bang!
The other surprise is that the police can stop you without any reason. You drive under the speed limit, obey all the rules and regulations and yet, they stop you. You have to show the appropriate documents, you have to open the trunk so the police can see whether you have all the equipment that you are supposed to have, including a first-aid kit. Interestingly enough, you don’t have to have a spare tire!
In the U.S. the police normally stop us only if we did something wrong. Knowing that we are indeed guilty of not obeying the law, we usually behave rather sheepishly. In addition, we know that it is not wise to argue with a policeman. My impression is that many Hungarian drivers don’t follow this good American practice. They either argue with the policeman or they try to pay him off. "What about if…. " and, unfortunately, quite a few traffic cops supplement their salary this way. Of course, this corruption couldn’t take place without the active participation of both sides.
An interesting thing happened Monday morning around 3:00 a.m. Two policemen noticed a car going well above the allowed speed limit on the Buda side of the city, close to the famous Chain Bridge. They stopped the car. In it there was a middle aged man who was wearing only a bikini swimsuit, flip-flops, and a wrist watch. Admittedly, it was hot but still the attire was rather unusual. As for documents, he had nothing on him: no driver’s license, no registration, no ID. Now, in a case like that a humble American citizen would apologize profusely, take the ticket and pay. Not our hero, who turned out to be a member of parliament (Fidesz). He started demanding that the policemen give proof that they were for real, then refused to get out of his car, and, when they managed to coax him out of the vehicle, attacked one of the policemen. At this point the cops lost their patience and, after a bit of a struggle, managed to handcuff him and take him to the police station.
Then comes the interesting part. While alone in the room he tried to inflict signs of physical abuse by throwing himself down on the floor. Ah, but those cameras. Somehow he didn’t count on those. I saw this "gentleman" on television today, where he claimed that he fainted. He threatens to sue the police, while the police are bringing charges against him. I am curious what will happen.