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<   No. 3555   2016-11-14   >

Comic #3555

1 Adam: It's a four hour drive to the village of Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness.
2 Jamie: We better get going. Have you ever driven on the left side of the road before?
3 Adam: Sure, when testing the myth that using a phone while driving is as dangerous as being drunk.
4 Jamie: Didn't you weave all over both sides?
4 Adam: Yeah. To stay on the left I better do both at once!

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On my recent vacation to Europe, I hired a car to drive around, and had to adapt to driving on the opposite side of the road to what I'm used to (since Australia drives on the left, while continental Europe drives on the right). I've done this once before, in the USA.

It's a little tricky at first, but it's surprising how quickly you adapt. Really, the hardest thing is actually dealing with a different driving culture and the fact that you aren't familiar with anywhere you're driving, so it's easy to miss turns, get caught in the wrong lane, and stuff like that.

The driving culture in southern Europe is very different to Australia. Despite numerous speed limit signs, plus numerous signs saying that police enforce the speed limits and are probably tracking you with radar at all times, nobody in Italy seems to care about speed limits at all[1]. To keep up with traffic flow, I regularly found I had to go at 50 km/hr in a 30 zone, or 70 in a 50 zone. And still had other cars overtaking me or tailgating me for going too slowly.

The other interesting thing is that many roads through small villages or mountains are really narrow. They built those villages back before cars were a thing, and people's houses are separated only by enough room to drive two horses past each other. Not that this stops Italian drivers from passing each other without slowing down. With approximately 2 centimetres of clearance on either side, between the oncoming car on your left, and the stone wall of someone's house on the right. My instinct in such situations was to slow to a crawl to make sure I didn't hit either obstacle. And inevitably the car behind would beep me for going too slowly.

Driving in a foreign country! I recommend it! It's one of those things you should do before you die. Like about 5 minutes before you die.

[1] Well, except for the minimum speed limits posted on the autostrada. That's right, Italy has minimum speed limits. On a typical three-lane autostrada, you're only allowed to go slow in the rightmost lane. To use the middle lane, you have to drive at least 90 km/hr, and to use the leftmost lane you have to be driving at least 110 km/hr. Not that driving 110 km/hr in the leftmost lane is a smart idea, because you constantly have Italian drivers in Ferraris or Lamborghinis zooming up behind you at 150+ and tailgating and flashing you with their headlights until you move over to let them past.

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