Posted by: scribe9 | November 3, 2009

Road surprises

I was surprised to see a black and red Jaguar sedan pulling a small utility trailer full of what appeared to be scrap metal. I can’t imagine seeing that in the US. (Whenever I make comparisons Emily tells me, “Save it for your blog.” Aren’t you lucky?) And I never expected to see three different ’57 Chevy Bel Airs, all wonderfully spiffed up, whose drivers are defying death in left-hand drive cars in a right-hand drive country. (Of course, in right-hand-drive countries one drives on the left. There are several websites devoted to the discussion of when and why countries drive on the side they do. The main determinant seems to be recent membership in the British Commonwealth, but that’s not ironclad; neighbor countries’ practices also count, and many of countries where one drives on the left are island nations. I could go on and on…but since a picture’s worth a thousand words I’ll just give you this link to show how Sweden did it:

Driving on the left has its own set of challenges, exacerbated no doubt by my having driven on the right for forty years. For once I’m glad to have an automatic transmission; the last thing I want to do in a two-lane traffic circle is to have to shift gears. Now I need to get in the habit of using my right hand instead of my left for the turn signal. I keep turning on the windshield wipers.

Now left turns are easy and right turns are the more dangerous, except for yielding to the car on the right. If you’re at a regular green light and you want to turn left, never mind that you’re not crossing any lanes of traffic; if there’s an oncoming car turning right—crossing in front of you—it has the right-of-way, because as you face it it’s on your right. Got that? Not exactly intuitive; I’m told that that rule leads to lots of T-bone accidents.

The good news is that that’s not an issue at every traffic light, because lots of them have turning arrows. But the bad news is that because of all those turning arrows, red lights are interminable. And you can’t turn (left or right) on a red light ever.

Of course, not all intersections have traffic lights. There are so few that they’re frequently marked on maps. So are traffic circles, which remind me of double-dutch rope jumping back in grade school; I had to learn to “read the ropes” and enter and leave at just the right time. But on the schoolyard we weren’t dealing with reading the minds of other drivers, who might or might not signal their intentions.

For now I try to avoid driving during rush hour—and I bet those Bel Air drivers do, too.



  1. I am trying the ‘leave a response’ section. Did you get it? I’m really enjoying your writing and following your experiences, Amy. Glad to hear you found a house already.
    Kathy Kelley

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