Note to the reader: if you’re looking for a factual article on driving in Europe, you’re in the wrong place. Nothing for you here, please back-up and move along.
It’s a little-known fact that all European cars sold in continental Europe have no indicators. Even imports have the indicator apparatus removed at the port, shipped to the UK and sold for spare parts.
Due to this, I have been heavy on the horn, especially in Italy. Maybe I’m just warming to my environment and blending in? Leaving Milan, an old man had his wing mirror rearranged by the massive steel bumper on the truck, as he thought I would let him nip in front of us after he passed us in the turn-left lane. It could have been much worse for his little Fiat had I wanted to socialise with the Polizia.
Something I am a fan of, however, is the way continental European drivers tend towards the slow lanes on the motorways. This simple departure from the norm in the UK almost single-handedly means that everyone can drive at the speed they wish. Pass, pull back in and allow anyone behind to overtake. Who cares if someone wants to drive faster than you? If everyone is in the outside lane, things only move as fast as the slowest car. This way, cars fly by, there is rarely anyone frustrated or angry, and everyone gets where they want to go at the speed they want. Brilliant. Shall we try it in the UK? It just might catch on…
There is one downside to this phenomenomenom, though. Occasionally, some drivers are so keen to pull in again once they pass you that they forget to actually fully pass you before pulling in. Or they do pass you, pull in and apply the brakes inches in front of you. Almost like it’s in celebration of passing a 22-year-old steel brick with a tent on top, powered by a tractor engine. I really thought we were going to monster-truck a guy a few days ago on the way to Lake Garda.
As we have driven south, the driving has gotten noticeably spicier. The drivers really seem to have no care for their vehicles or their own safety. Or maybe they have removed their mirrors as well as the indicators?
A fantastic stat is that the area around Salerno, Italy, has the highest number of drivers intent on being killed by a 4×4. Every major street we drove down we found someone willingly drive out in front of us and stop. It’s as if they know you’re coming as they only look towards the oncoming traffic after they stop their small car, completely blocking the road. They look up at you, with confusion on their little tanned faces, as if to ask “Why did you brake? Why didn’t you smash into me and at least total my shitheap of a car? Or even maim me? If I valued either my car or my life, I would clearly have looked before I pulled out. Or even just driven on rather than stopping once I’d blocked the road. Anything is better than this life, please reverse and have another go.” I was sorely tempted on every occasion.
Italian drivers: I’m not angry. I’m disappointed.
With Chuck the Truck now waiting at Salerno port to be shipped to Alexandria, Egypt, we will have to wait around 10 days before we judge the driving in our first African country. We simply can’t wait.