Saturday, November 21, 2015

Expat Observations: Road Rules

For the most part road rules in Australia are similar to what I'm used to in the United States, but there are some key differences that one needs to be aware of if driving here.

Keep to the left: Australians drive on the left side of the road. This is easy to remember, but you can experience some temporary panic at intersections if you aren't sure you have turned onto the correct side of the road (in addition to the problem of accidentally hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal).

Roundabouts: There aren't many roundabouts in the States as we have four way stops at intersections (sometimes with blinking red lights so everyone takes their turn). Single lane roundabouts make sense, but it's when you get into those giant multi-lane ones that things can get confusing. Perhaps I just need to sing The Basics "Roundabout" to remember the rules.

Hook turns: Hook turns are a unique feature of driving in the Melbourne CBD so that you don't block trams. Signs clearly mark the intersections where to make a right turn you have to do it from the far left hand lane as the light is about to change. Yes, this confuses many people who aren't used to it.

Stopping for trams: This is a big one for me as a public transport user as I don't want to get hit by a car when getting off the tram. When a tram stops in the road cars also need to stop so that people can get off and on safely. They can only continue driving and pass the tram when it closes the doors and starts to move again.

Motorcycle parking: For some reason motorcycles and scooters are allowed to park on the sidewalk in Melbourne as well as in designated parking spots. I still don't understand why this is the case.

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