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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Priorite a QUI? My whinefest about driving

We all knew this was coming. New job requires me to drive considerably more than the old one (bonus, I don't pay for gas), as a result I have way more run-ins with other French drivers. I should preface this, by explaining why driving in France is so difficult for me, and American.

Firstly, the roads are small, some one way roads are barely big enough for a car to get through, and the two ways WOULD be big enough for two cars, except one of those lanes is apparently designated for parking. The result? Chicanes. I asked a British woman one time how you say this in English (because I'm too lazy to look it up) and she told me, "Well I don't know, I suppose it would be same word." Oh right, of course I wouldn't know how to say this, because one thing we have an abundance of in the States (besides guns, violence, sex, and immigration) is SPACE. I spent three or four months in Montana/Wyoming and then another two weeks driving back across the southern part of the country. I'm not even sure if we saw other cars when we traversed Wyoming. Anyway, the point is, that roads arent ONE lane, even in older places, like the city of Alexandria in Virginia, a garbage truck on its daily rounds wouldn't stop traffic for two hours.

This "chicanes" phenomenon appears to happen in two different situations, when appointed by the city, in clearly marked parking spots. Or, like most other occurences in France, wherever the hell the French feel like it. So C-townians usually pick a side of the road to park, and, follow me here: If I am driving, and there are cars parked on my side of the road, I stop, if the cars are in the way of the driver coming towards me, THEY stop. Logical right? Add traffic, impatience, my lack of understanding of road laws and it equals A LOT of dirty looks, inappropriate gestures, swearing and near accidents.

Secondly, there exists this mysterious law called "priority to the right," which means, if someone is merging into traffic, and they dont have a stop sign you must yield to them.

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