This is Dekwaneh, a working class suburb of East Beirut, home to Lebanon’s department of motor vehicles. It’s not a battlefield between pro- and anti-Hezbollah forces, but thousands of potential killers are licensed here every year.
That means traffic accidents kill exponentially more Lebanese than battles involving Salafists, Hezbollah and Israel.
It all starts here in this small parking lot:
New drivers choose a red, blue or green 1960s Mercedes:
They make a loop around a small go-cart track:
They are then tasked with parallel parking:
Carefully monitored by a guy eating a sandwich:
And that’s about it.
Because doing a loop prepares you for drunk driving, drag racing, driving backwards, the wrong way, cutting others off like a video game or running red lights, which are all virtually legal activities in Lebanon.
The police almost never pull cars over or issue traffic tickets. They have literally abandoned the roads to whatever psychotic adrenaline-induced behavior is humanly possible.
But if roads are a bigger killer than Israel, why isn’t there an armed resistance against lawless drivers and those that approve them?