Monday, September 17, 2012

WNY Driving: Russian Roulette on Wheels

On trips back to Britain I note, with a new sense of wonder, how Home Counties drivers negotiate roundabouts. They drive around them like ducklings to the water, without a qualm. While on the other hand.....

  Americans don't get roundabouts. At least Western New Yorkers don't. They  recently introduced the first one in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo and it's been met by a spectrum of emotions ranging from puzzlement to abject horror. That is despite copious signs and instructions. But in my own opinion as a foreigner, the American alternative is even more terrifying.
    Where there are no lights, instead of the perfectly sensible British mini-roundabout, America has devised a fiendish system which I call Russian Roulette on Wheels. You get to a crossroads and every road leading to it has a red “Stop” sign. The drivers have to go in the strict order in which they arrive. And if two or more arrive at once, it's the one to the right of you that has priority. (A devious complication is when the road going across does not have stop signs. Sometimes this isn't made very clear, especially if there are trees around.)  And you have to work all that out without the benefit of a photofinish camera. For this you need a careful balance of courtesy and decisiveness that I’ve only encountered in America. Locals seem to have an uncanny way of knowing when to go, whereas with me it’s, “Oh is it my turn? No - you go first. OK forget it then……OOPS!”
I don't think this would work in Italy.

No comments:

Post a Comment