Monday, October 17, 2005

Driving



I do not drive here in Switzerland. I use public transportation or my feet. I have however noticed differences in the driving stile over here in Europe. It is not simply different traffic laws; it is a whole other driving approach.
In America you have stop on go traffic. Busy intersections, for the most part, have either a stop sign or a stop light. The preference over here in Europe is the roundabout. The idea is a flow of traffic instead of stop and go traffic.
Another aspect, at least here where I live, are the narrow roads here rural Switzerland. If two cars pass, usually one of them has to pull on to the side of the road and let the other pass. That or both of them hug the edge and narrowly miss each other.
There are no hard set rules to say who must yield the center of the road on the narrow back roads. That is unless one side is unable to pull off to the side.
The way it works is the first to inch a bit from the center is usually the one who has to pull to the side and let the other pass. This creates a game of chicken every time two cars meet on a back road.
Here is what happened today. My 18 year old sister in law was driving down one such road with another car approaching. My sister in law Silvia rarely ever yields the center and today was to be no exception, despite the fact there was ample space. The approaching car did not want to scrape the paint of her car in the bushes on her side so she did not yield the center either. So she lost her side rear view mirror.
Many might inappropriately say that is what you get with teenage drivers, or that is what you get with woman drivers. I say, that is what you get in this society. In my experience I think that most people over here would have done exactly the same. This is not to put anyone down in any way. It is merely a cultural observation. I have much worse things to say about American drivers.

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