If you have ever driven in a foreign country, there are certainly a couple of stages you go through as you pull away from the rental car lot. The first has to be apphrension as you realized you are driving in a different country with different laws and a different language – how is this going to work?! The next phase is where you gain a little more confidence and begin to feel more at home behind the wheel of the car, someplace that you almost act instinctively in.
The last stage surely must be the feeling of disbelief mixed with a tiny bit of hilarity when you realize that the rules of the road where you are do not always line up with the rules where you are from or even how the rules are on paper where you are now!
I cannot tell you the number of times I will be driving down a one way street (going the correct way) and someone comes from the opposite direction (going the wrong way). And, they just keep coming and do not even pull over! In fact, as they get closer, they flash their lights at you and make you pull over – even though you are following the law!
After this happens a couple of times, you just shake your head at it all and begin to take it in stride. This is their country after all, right? 🙂
That Is Not How A Roundabout Is Supposed To Work!
The “Right” Way
But the one thing that always frustrates me (in Greece) is the roundabout (something like a traffic circle designed to move vehicles more slowly around an intersection of streets). Now, I actually like roundabouts. They are an efficient way to move traffic around and it allows you to get some breathing room if you have made a wrong turn – how many of you have done what I have done and just ride the roundabout a few times while you get your bearings and check signs? 🙂
The rules of the road for roundabouts generally are that the vehicle(s) in the roundabout have the right of way. I mean, that makes sense anyway, right? They are already moving, they are in the flow, they are exiting at some point soon – of course they have the right of way. That means that you, the driver trying to enter the roundabout, waits and looks for space to ease into the flow of traffic.
The “Wrong” Way
Except, that is not how it works in Greece. To make it even worse, if you ask 10 Greek drivers how it is supposed to work, you will get it split down the middle of the correct procedure. But, it apparently is that the entering traffic has the right of way over the traffic already in the roundabout. That just creates confusion!
Picture this – there is one roundabout in particular (entering a shopping plaza area) with two roads that have a lot of traffic feeding into it. The roundabout is not large and it only possesses one lane, but many drivers make it two lanes. Now, this oncoming traffic starts feeding into it making the cars in the roundabout stop. Except the other entrances to the roundabout are also spilling cars in and the traffic is getting backed up in the roundabout – this traffic efficient design.
This makes it even worse, half of the drivers at various roundabouts are split just like the 10 you questioned. That means that some are entering, some are yielding. I just wish I could grab a photo of that! Driving in these roundabouts really makes me want to “educate” these drivers on how you are “supposed” to drive in a roundabout. I mean, everyone else does it right in other countries, right? But, then I remember that I am still a guest and there is no way that I am going to change something like this by myself.
Still, it can be a frustrating experience driving like that when you know it feels so wrong! How about you? Any foreign driving habits that frustrate you?
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