We want to hire a car in Lebanon to drive ourselves around. Are we silly to do this as we have heard that the driving there is crazy?
We are staying about half an hour from ski resorts. Do we need a 4WD to get there, or is a normal sedan OK? Thinking of the snow and all, assuming there is some! We are going this Saturday for a week.
Driving in Lebanon IS crazy if road rules, sticking to lanes and not honking your horn are the conditions you're used to. So it depends on what kind of driver you are and how 'gutsy' you are. If you drive like you do at home you'll get into trouble... putting on your indicator and pulling out into traffic will get you rear-ended! Every manoeuvre, every lane change, every intersection is a 3-dimensional negotiation with the other 50 cars around you.
Lebanon has the worst road accident statistics in the Arab world. 700 people were killed on the roads in 2009. There are also 470 vehicles for every 1000 people, considered saturation point for most nations, so the roads are incredibly crowded and congested.
The Lebanese introduced speed radars in Nov 2010, and in 95 days police in Beirut nabbed 100,000 speeders. On the upside, the police said it led to a significant reduction in the number of accidents, injuries and deaths.
I'd also recommend a 4WD if you're going on snow and ice, otherwise you'll need to fit snow chains to the sedan (and personally I hate doing it). A 4WD will also help negotiate Lebanon's potholed, slippery and generally poor roads.
Have a look at this Beirut intersection.... dangerous? Well there's not one crash!
In some European cities they deliberately remove all traffic signs and markings and make it a free-for-all. By making it unpredictable and potentially dangerous, people slow down and take extra care. Seems like the Lebanese have been doing this for years!
If you're determined to have a car, maybe get a driver, too.... someone who knows the road rules and who can take the blame (and insurance problems) if there is a crash. over 9 years ago