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Master Driver

Joined: Mar 27, 2010
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 5:10 pm Reply with quote Back to top

In my country, me and my associates complain on a lack of a driving culture in our roads. Over time, me and my other associates, had a chance to observe the driving culture, as well as road infrasctructure, police activity, legistlature, car fleet and other variants in other countries, as a method of comparison. This thread is a good oppurtunity to compare driving cultures from different countires around the world. Feel free to add your observation on any driving culture you know of in the world.

1. Israel
The drivers are simply unskilled (due to insufficient training) and lack awareness. They tailgate, make lane changes, cross junctions or overtake without sufficient observation and caution, tend to get distracted, and in rush hour get angry and use the horn quite aggressively.

The infrastructure is medium - The tarmac quality in towns and side roads is often not very good, and the guardrails are often of old make and battered. The police sticks to enforcements of "political" offences like speeding on highways (the national speed limit has lately been rised to 100km/h, 110 on autostrades - even though these roads are very well made and can support much higher limits). The car fleet is diverse, with a preference to small-engine, automatic sedans, mostly from Japanese make (cars are traded based on their reliabilty, price of parts and value). Cars are not welll maintained.

Israel is a small country with the majority of the population focused around an even smaller metropolis, a series of shore-side cities. This makes the roads about thrince as populated as in the US or Europe, and also makes us the world champions at running down pedestrians, most of which are hit when on a crosswalk.

2. Italy
North Italy, down to the capital of Rome, usually feels like driving in nearby Austria: Good obedience to rules and patience practiced by drivers, although a lot of people run red, cross the street in dangerous places and alike in the big cities during rush hour. The cars are mostly of local make, the beloved Fiat 500 "Abarth" and seem to be well maintained. Manual transmissions, of course.

In sothern Italy - it's absolute chaos! Drivers tailgate (and I mean drive with a foot to spare between cars), perform insane overtakes from all directions and at all speeds: On the right-hand shoulder, left over solid white lines and directly in front oncoming traffic which moves right, with as much as five cars driving parallel on a two-lane roadway! Running red lights, stopping in unacceptable places, cutting lines of stopped cars and what not. But, somehow, there's an order in things! People anticipate this kind of behavior from other drivers, especially during rush hour and manage to get by.

The infrastructure seems good, motorways and dual-carriageways with new guardrails that all protect rigs and bikes, alongside amazing single-carriageway roads that wind up into the mountains, the closest that a public road can get to a race-track, and for hundreds and thousands of miles!

3. USA
Here my experience closes down to some time in Florida and New-York, and further knowledge from other associates, as well as empirical knowledge from researches. You can feel free to detail on specific states. The car fleet includes big-sized, automatic cars, with a preference to comfortable and "roomy" cars, or to SUV's. The drivers, who begin driving from a small age and with little training, suffer from lack of awareness to hazards while driving. Amongst other things, there is a plague of texting while driving, and the precent of people that wear seatbelts is one of the lowest in the world!

People seem to lack awareness to proper seperation distance and therefore there is a lot of tailgating going on, and people don't seem to put too much effort into keeping to the right. If a driver already moved one lane to the left, he might not even consider the possibility of moving back right. The distances travelled are very long and there is a problem of fatigued drivers, and drinking and driving appears to be more serious than in my country.

The infrastructure is good in main roads, which are basically massive motorways with incredibly complex interchanges. In side roads and in small countries in simply horrifying! Ruts in the pavement, big potholes, tar bleeding out of the road and what not! The police is strict and hunts drivers for speed, but also for more relevant offences like using the phone while driving or not wearing the seatbelt.

4. The UK
Driving on the "Right side of the road." The car fleet has a preference to small, manual cars. Other than the insane traffic in London, driving in the country is amazingly relaxing: Speed limits are high, people are courtious, generally follow cars with good seperation gaps, make observant lane changes and overtakes and keep the right-hand lanes on a motorway or dual-carriageway clear for overtakers. There is an onging struggle against speed limits and the enforcement of such speed limits.

With that being said, there seems to be a serious problem of drinking and driving, and even the legal limit is much higher than in the US or Israel. You will be surprised at what a british driver can get away with where you would be without a license. There is also a problem with pedestrians in the big cities, like London. You can suddenly find a mass of people crossing the street (based on a right-of-way to pedestrians in towns).

5. France
Drivers are courtious, patient, skilled and maintain the principles of proper speed, following distances and keeping to the right. They are observant and perform cuatious lane changes and overtakes. They also prefer small, manual cars of European make (by that I mean that the amount of none-european and/or automatic cars you can see is near zero). The drivers drive at high speeds (national speed limit for motorways is 130km/h).

There are problems of drinking and driving, drowsy driving and in big cities, mainly in Paris, there are problems with pedestrians that spill off of the pavement anywhere and at any time, as well as parking issues as it is considered acceptable to push your way into a tight parking space.
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
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Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:46 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Wow, nice write-up Astraist, thank you. Smile I hope other people with experience in different countries can chime in and shed some light at local driving habits, too.

On my side, I have just a cursory experience of driving in several countries like Turkey or Cyprus, so I will not touch those. I do have an extensive experience of driving in the US and in Russia though, and can add a bit to your post.

Mostly agree to your observations. People are totally oblivious to driving dangers and driving in general. They think driving within the speed limit is all what is needed to be safe. Very Happy

In my experience (mostly Washington area) people generally wear seatbelts. BTW, police cannot stop you for not wearing ones, this is considered a second tier offense.

Tailgating IMHO is caused by a total lack of lane courtesy (which you noticed, too). Drinking and driving here, again IMHO, is blown out of proportion - political agenda long overcame the safety concerns.

Is changing dramatically over the last couple of dozen years or so. In the USSR they were quite strict on initial driver training, so people who started drive back then were relatively proficient. Also, there were very few cars back then, times less than in Western countries. With the end of the communist era it all collapsed, and since then many people are just buying their driving licenses.

They don't drive long in the big cities like Moscow though, they get into an accident quite soon, and then they start learning. Moscow is very tough, people drive fast and tight, very little room for error. Frequent lane changes and tailgating is a norm, and written traffic laws do not get much respect. Hence everyday accidents, mostly involving inexperienced drivers or outsiders.

Roads got much better since the communist era though, again in the big cities like Moscow, and major highways. However, a big pothole on a major highway without any warning sign is not something unheard of. Local roads could be a total mess, especially in Siberia and on the far East.
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Joined: Jan 06, 2010
Posts: 485

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:05 am Reply with quote Back to top

Great thread Astraist!

I've driven in three very different places: Paris, London and South Asia.


- Crazy traffic in and around Paris
- No lanes marked around most of central city
- Driving during peak tourist season can be a night mare - watch out for all the obliviously happy camera clicking away right in the middle of Champs-Elysees!
- Too many taxi drivers - not the world's best drivers either!
- Best part is, when anyone yells at you, it's impossible to understand! Wink


- Too many rules! Rolling Eyes
- Lanes are very strictly marked - signs on the road itself.
- Cameras everywhere!
- Very strict rules about driving in bus lanes
- Parking prices around central town are staggering!
- Regular traffic jams - as is the case in any big city

South Asia:

- No rules at all - rather, no one cares to stick to them! Doh!
- Buses, rickshaws, carts, bicycles and cars all jostle together, fighting for space.
- Noise levels are unbelievably high, thanks to constant beeping horns.
- Exhausts and pollution from vehicles.
- Be wary of the occasional dog or buffalo straying on the roads!
- Great way to practice your driving skills - i.e. if you can survive here, you can survive anywhere in the world! Very Happy
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Joined: Apr 29, 2011
Posts: 44
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:30 am Reply with quote Back to top

It's such a interesting post. I really like it.

Thanks for sharing.
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Joined: Apr 03, 2011
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:19 pm Reply with quote Back to top

One aspect of American driving is the drive-thru window at restaurants, stores, pharmacies, and banks. I have heard of drive-thru liquor stores in southwestern states. Since marijuana is becoming semi-legal, I expect there will soon be drive-thru marijuana stores.
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Posts: 485

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:50 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Very Happy lol yeah, I love how there is so much emphasis on convenience and efficiency in america. Why should access to drugs be an exception?! Wink
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Seasoned Driver

Joined: Jul 15, 2012
Posts: 120

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:41 pm Reply with quote Back to top

charn wrote:
One aspect of American driving is the drive-thru window at restaurants, stores, pharmacies, and banks. I have heard of drive-thru liquor stores in southwestern states. Since marijuana is becoming semi-legal, I expect there will soon be drive-thru marijuana stores.

I remember the drive-thru liquor stores in Arizona. Talk about a mixed message.
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