Driving in Europe

Driving Europe Some people are terrified of the very thought of driving in Europe. This fear has been going on for centuries. Honestly-there are accounts of people terrified of Italian horse and buggy drivers and things don’t seem to have changed a whole lot since.

While it’s probably wrong to generalize, I’m going to take a crack at it anyway. Europeans, by and large, drive more aggressively but pay more attention to the road than Americans. Personally, I like this because you can safely figure that the guy in the red Ferrarri is going to race you for the 7 feet you’ve left between you and the BMW ahead of you, and you’ll be right at least 99 percent of the time. Knowing what people are likely to do is half the battle toward automotive safety. The rest is driving skill and paying attention. (In contrast to the above, and as explanation to our European readers of the sometimes bizarre behaviors one sometimes encounters on American roads, I point the gentle reader toward an absolutely hideous movie called L.A. Story, in which 4 drivers pull up to a four-way stop, motion each other to go, and then all crash into each other. In short, European drivers rush to take their right of way, even if they have to take it from someone else, and Americans rush to give it up when they’re not in a hurry–unless they’re going slowly in the left lane of the freeway of course.)

Europeans driving on the autobahns and autostrade, as already noted, tend to do most of their driving in the right lane, using the left one only to pass (except, of course, in Britain, which is a special case entirely.) The person in the left lane isn’t likely to enforce his arbitrarily chosen version of the speed limit on you, even if he’s going 200 km/hour. Chances are, he’ll move over to let you pass, a courtesy infrequently extended to fellow drivers here in the US.

The above is, of course, just my opinion. I love driving in Europe, especially Italy. But then I’ve enjoyed driving at Laguna Seca and Sears Point raceways in flameproof underwear, too. Others less inclined toward the exhilaration that comes from a well-built car at speed have put their crystal-clear assessments about European driving on the web, and we’ve got some links to them, of course.

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