Driving customs from around the world
Whether you have moved or traveled to another country, you have most likely experienced the thrill (and perhaps agony) of driving in a foreign country. While there are many ways to discover a culture from the inside, you’ll learn a thing or two from driving through a country’s roads. Let’s take a look at some of the written, and unwritten, rules for driving in these countries.
Tip: Watch the speed limits
Switzerland offers some of the most scenic driving routes in the world, but don’t get too carried away with the views…Speeding, even on highways, is considered a legal offense and can have consequences ranging from fines to jail time! Another peculiar aspect is that speeding fines are calculated based on your income. To drive on Swiss highways, you also need to buy a vignette toll sticker to put on your windshield. Needless to say, if you’re not careful, Swiss driving laws could spoil your journey through the mountains.
Tip: Keep in mind that every state has different driving laws
Driving in the US can be tricky, as each state has its own set of rules, along with its own driving culture. Cities such as Miami and New York are known for their road rage, while cities such as San Diego and Seattle earn the distinction of the most polite. Some customs, like driving while talking on the phone, or turning right at a red light, may seem rather careless. In some states, you might even look over at a stop light and see a 14 year old driving a Subaru. Other customs, like a law in Massachusetts that makes driving with a gorilla in the back of your car illegal, are just plain weird.
Tip: Be patient and get ready for traffic
Let’s take Moscow. If you’re driving in this mega metropolis, get ready for a headache. As if the traffic jams weren’t bad enough – there is a law that, as soon as there’s an accident that damages a car, the cars involved cannot move and have to wait for the police. Even if they’re in the middle of the street! In Moscow, you also have to keep your car clean, inside and out, if you want to avoid a hefty fine.
Tip: Stay in the car when you see an animal
In South Africa, animals have the same rights to the road as you. If you happen to encounter a rhino or elephant on the road, you should stop your car, turn off the engine, and sit there quietly. South African drivers’ courtesy doesn’t just extend to animals. When approaching a slower car, the forward driver often pulls as far to the side as possible to let you pass. Once you’ve passed, it’s common to briefly flash your hazard lights as a thank you. How nice is that?
Tip: Don’t start yelling, they won’t listen anyway
You may find that some Spanish drivers, and especially motorcyclists, have a certain disregard for the rules of the road, and an impressive ability to weave in and out of traffic. You might find yourself at an intersection watching taxis, cars and the occasional scooter nudging their way forward facing different directions, and it’ll be hard not to laugh. Don’t be surprised if you see a car stop next to a parked car, either, they’ll move eventually…
Tip: Traffic won’t stop for you, you’ll have to stop for them
There’s only one rule for driving in Vietnam, and that is that there’s no rules. You’ll be surprised to see what kinds of things you can transport on a motorbike: goats, chicken, fish, and even families of 5. If you’re trying to cross the road, don’t count on crosswalks to be your friend, you’ll have to maneuver your way through the traffic.