By James Wong
Through my 2723 miles of driving through Europe, I am constantly impressed at how good Europeans drive.
Not in any country did I feel like I was maligned or bullied. Well, I mainly travelled through the northern and central European regions – could that be a reason? I drove in Naples this year and it was pure chaos.
In every country I travelled through this time, there was a consistent orderliness that permeated everything. Overtaking is almost always signalled, faster drivers are always (no exception) given way and there are no road hoggers. This also applies to crowded motorways, by the way.
One might think that this only happens in Germany, and while Germany has excellent driving standards, it is no better than in Belgium, or Switzerland.
I have to say though, going at 216km/h in such a orderly fashion in Germany has got to be one of the highlights of the trip. How this remains legal in any part of the world at all is one amazement. But to be sure, the Germans do not use this privilege recklessly at all – in fact most are travelling at the average speed in that of other countries – between 80 to 90mph. So in reality, the top speed is largely academic, for two reasons: most cars can’t go that fast (let’s be honest here, the common man in Germany drives the same Golf as the common man elsewhere) and secondly, there are countless road works that bring speed limits down to 80km/h.
Speaking of road works, I think a lot of European governments are spending their way through road infrastructure. If you drive through Europe’s motorways you will understand. Road works are everywhere. I am talking about meeting almost every hour, and you will certainly meet one every day if you are travelling long distances. And oh boy, these are irritating all right. Driving manners is beyond reproach but these countries could certainly improve on their road works! While highways are generally smooth, they were (partially) causing whip lash injuries in Belgium in my car and seriously, they are done too excessively. Is there a real need to fix a road that isn’t broken? I sincerely hope it is just the season when roads are fixed because of a harsh winter. If not, then stop rebuilding roads that aren’t broken!
Of course when things are broken, then people are quick to help. Ambulances are – just like you see on videos online – let through motorway traffic without hesitation, even in a stagnant traffic jam. Police cars with sirens on are always let through, and cars will mount kerbs to give way. Amazing. To them, it is everyday courtesy. To us Singaporeans, we think they’re Gods… But c’mon, it’s just manners!
All’s said and done, it was lovely driving through the Continent. Thank you for your good manners, it was certainly something I need to preach at home!