Well… No surprise if I tell you the British drive on the left-hand side of the road…
If you compare with France, British are really good drivers! It must be said that the comparison is extreme! French people have no clue how to use a vehicle… Especially in Paris or Marseille!
If you compare with the whole of France, the driving is similar. There are good and bad drivers. Focused ones and a**holes! No miracle. The British is just… A human being! We find the sames all over the world.
But there is still something different. Something unusual for us, French… Unbelievable actually. I think we call it courtesy and common sense. Crazy, right? I am sure you read these last few words again and again just to be sure you understood me. I would. These words are unusual for a French! I don’t see/hear them very often.
Of course, I should remind that there are exceptions everywhere. And that all British are not obviously polites. But globally. In the vast majority (except London that owns a British culture that is far more different from the rest of the country). They are polite. And they use common sense and it feels good. But not always otherwise it’s not funny.
Let me give you few examples.
When you let someone pass. A priority to the right. A crosswalk. Whatever… They say thank you. And that’s normal. But it feels good to see it. A wave. Using the hazard lights. Or they do something I’ve never seen before. They use the indicators 2-3 times. One to the left, one to the right and another one to the left (the sequence is not important). Because, basically, warning lights are… Hazard lights. They mean to report a hazard, not to say thank you. See?! Common sense!
On an entry slip road or at a crossroads, or anywhere actually, when the road gets blocked a little bit, they don’t care about the priority. In France, you can get stuck 20 minutes at a crossroads because no one lets you pass and that every idiot wants to move one centimeter on the lane. But there is still a traffic jam actually…. It doesn’t change anything! No the British will use common sense again and will apply a basic rule: each goes in turn and everyone move. Smart, right?
Let’s go back to the entry slip roads. If you had the chance to visit France, you probably noticed that, on the motorway, exits lanes are…. after the entry slip roads???!!! So, on certain road sections, you will have logically traffic jam as there are too many people. Cars will enter the motorway before some people can have the chance to exit it. The British built exit lanes before entry slip roads. Smart. Again.
Also, there is almost no toll in the UK. I live in a place, where the private company (French of course) built a bridge many years ago and put a toll to make profits… And finished its contract. The bridge is refunded and it’s now the property of the local government. Instead of enjoying this additional revenue… The government simply cancelled the toll. Unique!
But I told you a little bit earlier, other countries do smart things too!
Road quality first. In France, we have to donate a kidney every time we come across a toll but the roads are very well-maintained. In the UK, you have to drive between potholes. They try to fix them time to time but don’t really maintain the road.
Also, trucks. In France for example, trucks are not allowed to drive anytime. They have to respect a specific schedule. Otherwise, it will cause traffic jams. It’s big. It’s slow and takes a lot of room on the road. But in the UK, no, they can drive all day long. So it creates traffic jams because they are everywhere.
I’ll end this topic with a fantastic parallel with my other topic: politeness. If the British are polite in their day to day life, they are, of course, courteous on the road.
Approach a pedestrian crossing. Come on. Put your foot on the road. Yeah do it! The cars stop. Unbelievable! Don’t be a fool neither. Be always careful when you cross a road, bla bla bla. Give a hand bla bla bla. Check both sides of the road (start with the right one!).
However, anticipate your driving! As a good French, I never had the habit to stop at the crosswalk to let someone pass. The British do it automatically.
And they anticipate when they brake. If a pedestrian, approaches but is still not near the road, the car will slow down. If the pedestrian turns to the road, then the car will stop immediately. If you are a pedestrian having lived in Paris or any big city around this world, you will be in paradise! If you drive, then anticipate! Stop automatically. It’s not unpleasant, you don’t waste your time and they say thank you. And don’t be too close to the car in front of you.
Other precaution a British will also take when he/she overtake a cyclist. In France, for example, we must respect a minimum of 1,50 meters between the car and the bike. But the British won’t surprise the cyclist and will simply… make a lane change!
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