I’m over in the US at the moment for a short stint of summer camp work. Been for a few drives… the driving style here in northern Pennsylvania is very different to home in Canberra. Just trying to work out why…
Country road speed limits are 45-55mph here, roughly 70 to 90km/h. In the ACT or surrounding NSW, roads of this quality would be 80km/h to 100km/h.
Interestingly… most drivers here seem to average 80 to 90km/h on all of these roads. The driving style is far more relaxed. There’s very little tailgating or general agressiveness. After speaking with locals, enforcement of speed limits is also relaxed… with most local officers letting you get away with 20mph (30km/h) over the limit before pulling you over. There are no speed cameras.
Overtaking on double yellow lines though illegal, is normal practice when safe. Other drivers do not get angry about this and from what I’ve seen tend to slow down to allow the faster vehicle to pass.
In towns, speed limits are 25-35mph, same as home. Though it’s the norm to sit at 15-20mph. It’s not uncommon for drivers to stop for a pedestrian trying to cross the road even if they’e not on a pedestrian crossing. That said… it also seems to be the norm that many drivers wont stop for pedestrians at all… be they on a crossing or not.
Right turn on red is permitted at every set of traffic lights unless sign posted otherwise. Very few intersections have left turn arrows.
There are bike paths in towns and cities, but there are very few adult cyclists using them. Interestingly, there are many roads without foot paths.
So is the driving style far more relaxed here because drivers aren’t nannied to death… treated like adults?
Or is it because everyone is terrified that any person on the road could be carrying a gun… so they respect each other a little more? 🙂