How Ethiopian drivers navigate huge intersection with no lights (video)

A pretty cool video of a huge intersection in Ethiopia in which drivers, and pedestrians, do amazingly well with no traffic lights.


Check out about 40 minutes into the video, when a whole bunch of pedestrians start crossing the intersection, including one couple that cuts right through the middle, coming from the bottom.

NOTE FROM JOHN: Please share our content on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and beyond. As I explained the other day, when you share our stories, you help bring us visitors, which increases our ad revenue and helps to keep this site alive. Thanks for your help. JOHN

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

Share This Post

  • ComradeRutherford

    I heard about an traffic circle in, I think, Amsterdam, where they took away all the signs to cut down on accidents. And it worked! The drivers, not knowing what to do because of the lack of signage (except for Yield markers painted on the roadbed), had to slow way down, about 50% slower than before. Pedestrian hits and car crashes were greatly reduced.

  • American

    This is because here in America, all dumbassses with no education or low IQ still get license. they can’t handle any unusual situation and they are always rude. many people also bribe the authorities to pass the driving test so many stupid americans are allowed to drive.

  • aachrisg

    This video is sped up. Pedestrians and cars successfully navigate the car traffic because it’s slow. Seems a lot less efficient than having a traffic light. I haven’t been to ethiopia, but have seen similar things in indonesia and PNG. You end up kind of amazed at how well it works, but traffic lights and walk signs work WAY better.

  • Most American drivers can’t even seem to handle a standard four-way stop. Something like this would just send them over the edge. There would be like thirty cars piled up in the intersection with a bunch of people foaming at the mouth and white-knuckling their steering wheel.

    There was a European-style traffic circle installed in an area around here about a year ago, and the city had to tear it up and put in a standard intersection after a few months because large numbers of people couldn’t figure out how it worked.

    I’ve driven in many places in the world, and there are no end of psychotic drivers out there – who treat everyone around them as if they’re in a mutual suicide pact – but the US definitely takes the cake for the dumbest drivers.

  • Ager wedad

    Yes there are ,traffic lights close to the church, to Bole road, close to the stadium, another to Gihon hotel, on the way to Saris Road. The main open area has no lights but all the roads to the square had lights. Currently I heard the square is under construction for a tram rail road. But I am sure there was lights. Someone currently in Addis help me.

  • Yonus

    I was visiting Addis on June, 2011 and there were no traffic light. May be there are now.

  • GaiusPublius

    Cairo was (is) like this, including the pedestrians. I was told two things. One, there aren’t many accidents, but when there is, it’s horrible. Lots of bodies. Two, the best way to kill an enemy in Egypt is to nail them crossing the street, death by “Cairo accident.”


  • HolyMoly

    There are quite a few intersections here that have “photo enforcement” cameras, and the number of them is growing quickly. It seems like there are MORE accidents with the cameras in place, because people slam on their brakes when the light turns yellow. That’s partly because the yellow lights seem to have been shortened, so you’re too close to the line to stop but can’t make it across the intersection before the red (good way to increase ticket revenue). And partly because people follow too closely (which is hard not to do during rush hour, which is pretty much from sunrise to sunset).

    When I have some free time (Schock Time, I’ll call it), I would like to time the lights, get the measurements of the intersection, and compare that with safe stopping distances. I want to either confirm or debunk my own hypothesis about these lights.

  • emjayay

    It’s working like a roundabout, only with a mess in the middle. It only works at all because of the huge space, and the obvious solution of simply putting a round island in the middle and painting some lanes on the pavement would make it work properly.

  • milli2

    I’d be in the middle of it having a panic attack.

  • I don’t know if Americans can handle this.

  • BillFromDover


    Anybody can do this without a smart phone in their lap.

  • Reminds me of an intersection in Paris from years ago — except the Parisians managed gridlock, which was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages.

  • Ager wedad

    I am from Addis ababa. Actually there is a traffic light in Meskel square. This video is not a normal recording. It is in a fast forward mode.I have lived there for 6 years and I haven’t seen the square a single day without the traffic light not working.

  • The_Fixer

    I would avoid that intersection at all costs if I lived there. Too nerve-wracking.

    But the one thing that I did notice was the road is in much better shape than any in my town. Of course they don’t have to deal with frost heaving like we do.

    But that’s certainly no reason to move to Ethiopia.

  • Jim Olson

    If you look, there do not appear to be many accidents. People don’t actually try to ram through, they drive relatively carefully. I bet the accident rate would soar if they actually lit this whole intersection. There are articles about towns in England, Germany and the Netherlands that have eliminated all traffic controls. Accident rates plummet.

  • Indigo

    If everybody’s paying attention and driving defensively, it can work. Not in Florida, of course, but maybe somewhere else in the States.

  • Tor

    Reminds me of a taxi ride in Naples, only more-so.

  • Thom Allen

    The video pauses multiple times. I think that lets them tow away the cars that were damaged in accidents and scrape up unwary pedestrians.

  • The video is slower, real time – I just thought it would be interesting to see it sped up.

  • pricknick

    That was fun. I was counting green cars.

  • DRoseDARs

    Just the gif is unnerving; I don’t know if I can handle the video…

  • Matt Rogers

    It looks dangerous, especially for the pedestrians. I wonder what the accident rate is.

  • Cletus

    That’s frightening.

© 2017 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS