Status Update:

Current location: Bochum / Germany

50 countries, 1226 days, trip mileage: 124200 km

10 Jun 2008

Traffic in Italy

yeah right...

Italian drivers seem to feel obliged to use the steering-wheel single-handedly: using their left hand whilst they’re on the phone, chatting away mile after mile – or using their right hand whilst the left arm is hanging outside the window: either in a downwards/relaxed fashion or (finger tips connected) the hand pointing towards the sky, giving clear signals to the driver in front of them (who’s likely not to look into the rear mirror anyway).

No matter if it’s a long straight on the motorway or a coastal road with sharp bends and hairpin-curves (the stunning Amalfi Coast being a prime example), another phenomenon I observed during the last few weeks is that most drivers seem to genuinely believe that the strange white lines on the roads (which in most other European countries are understood to separate the various lanes of traffic), are merely a proposal or suggestion (not even a guideline). And: it HAS to run right beneath the centre of the vehicle.

As for motorways: Never use the right hand lane – no matter if you’re revving your scooter to 40 mph, or if you’re going on a family holiday in a tiny Fiat 500 with 5 people and luggage inside. The right hand lane is reserved for lorries, and lorries only! No lorries in sight for the next few miles? Don’t ask – just stick to the middle lane like everyone else does. And if you’d like to change lanes, please – heaven forbid – do not use your indicators. Instead: Give the other drivers in your close proximity enough time to react, don’t make any sudden moves and slowly(!) change over to the neighbouring lane.

Seriously though: Despite all this, it’s relatively easy to get used to the traffic here, and in a way I find the Italian style of driving quite refreshing and forgiving, as I imagine it to be simply a reflection of the amicable Italian lifestyle.