Driving on the wrong side of the road

4 Dec

After a four year hiatus, I have taken up driving again. I say driving but I actually mean crawling along at a snail’s pace while wondering why the gear stick is not near my left hand and someone tells me to get on the right side of the road.

For me, driving on the right hand side of the road will always be unnatural. I learnt how to drive in England (admittedly after far too many lessons) so to me the left hand side will away be the right side of the road.

It has begun to get easier, although I have had some hairy moments. I went out for a night time drive straight after work a few weeks ago and it terrified me. The road and the surroundings look so different at night and it certainly doesn’t help when you are not familiar with the road and an exhaust examiner gets right up behind you and completely blinds you with his headlines in your rear-view mirror. In case you are wondering, yes it was a BMW driver.

The rules and regulations, like everything in Switzerland, are numerous. The signs on the road are different to home. For example, when an advisory speed limit is no longech-vorschriftssignal-ende_der_hochstgeschwindigkeit_50_generell-1-svgr valid, the number is just crossed out like the one here. It leaves me wondering what is the speed limit then? Why don’t they just have a sign with a new speed limit so it is clear what the limit is. Part of the reason must be because you are heavily fined in Switzerland if you are over the speed limit and if you are over the limit by a certain percentage, you automatically lose your license. There are no speed awareness courses or points to be put on the license here.

Also different is how you enter the motorway or the autobahn. In England, when you want to exit the slip road you can pull into the main carriageway if there are no vehicles obstructing you. In Switzerland, even if there are no vehicles in the next lane, you must wait until the solid white line separating the slip road from the main carriageway turns into a dotted line. If the police catch you doing this you have to pay an on-the-spot fine of 6o CHF. Who makes up these rules? Although I believe this is also the case in Hong Kong and, I would imagine other places around the world.

If you leave your license at home and are stopped by the police, you will have to pay a fine because you need to have all relevant documentation on you.

Today I drove to the airport and watched some of the airplanes land and then drove back home. All in all, I was a lot more confident and I am hoping that, after a few more sessions out on the road, I will be okay to drive alone and not cause a hazard to other road users. However, part of me still thinks that it was always feel like taking a bath with my wellies on. We will see….

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