Monday, 21 January 2013

Road mutterings

Today, I had a near miss. A little car decided to amble out in front of me with no warning, indication or space at half my existing velocity. This shouldn't have been a surprise, because that's daily driving on the M25 . But it was. Because here, people indicate, keep a safe distance, and pull over into the 'slow' lanes on a regular basis.

Followers of this blog know that I have been doing a lot of driving in Europe recently, and every country has its own 'style'. The Dutch are without question the politest and most consistent drivers I've seen. Are the Dutch a nation of paragons, I asked myself? The answer is no, and is far more pragmatic than that. Unlike the UK, which has invested a major percentage of its police road budget over the last twenty years in 'safety' cameras which generate revenue from a single snapshot of time without caring about the broader situation, the Dutch still have an active traffic police arm. They fine you if tailgate and drive too close to the car in front. They fine you if you fail to indicate prior to manoeuvring. They fine you if you sit in the wrong lane needlessly and block the traffic.

In summary, they hit your pocket hard if you drive badly or dangerously. And yes, they use 'safety' cameras too : I drive through 2 on my way to work - one is on the major junction/crossing in front of the Feijenoord football stadium, a road which is regularly deluged with flag waving fans. The other is on a segment of the ring road which has a *lot* of junctions on and off, and a variable speed limit. In places where they make a difference.

Oh, and the car that nearly hit me? Italian. When in Rome, drive like the Romans. I'd just forgotten that all roads lead to Rome.

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