Wednesday 5 November 2014

My least favourite road rule

Photo from BBC

Driving in Czech was one of the things I was more scared of when I moved. The change to driving on the other side of the road was the thing that was most on my mind. I’ve now owned a car here for almost fourteen months and I’ve yet to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Of course, remembering what side of the road to drive on is not the hardest part of changing sides of the road. Sixteen months of living here and I still instinctively almost always at first go towards the wrong side of the car. I’ve found the issue with changing side of the road is actually in changing sides of the car – the car has always been on my left as I drive and now it’s on the right.

The other change has been the scale of the driving. In Northern Ireland I could drive to Belfast in thirty minutes, and most of my journeys were simply up to Saintfield, a journey of five minutes. And I drove on the motorway just a couple of times a year.

Here, if I am leaving my town it is usually to go to the office or Ostrava and both places are forty minutes or so from my home. And both involve driving along the same stretch of motorway where the speed limit is 130 kmph or 80 mph.

Before moving here I didn’t really think about needing to learn different road rules. But this has probably been the most stressful part of driving here, because learning new rules make you feel very unsure of yourself.

And quite quickly I figured out my least favourite road rule. Thankfully it’s not a rule I have to deal with every time I drive but it’s still my least favourite.

Generally this rule only comes into force after 6pm and only in certain places.

At 6pm some traffic lights change to being just flashing amber lights. It doesn’t mean get ready for a red light, or prepare to go when the green light appears. It means obey the road sign on the traffic light.

Photo source - it's actually a road I drive on all the time!

Each traffic light that changes to a flashing amber light also has a road sign. When the traffic lights are working you ignore the road sign and when the traffic light just flashes amber you obey the road sign. The sign might be a stop sign, a give way sign, or a yellow and white diamond that indicates you have the priority.

I think the reason I dislike this rule so much is the couple of junctions in my town – the ones I often find myself navigating after 6pm – are complicated or staggered junctions. And I sometimes don’t understand how a junction can warrant a light at 5.59pm but not at 6.01pm.

I have no doubt that a lot of people have prayed for my driving in my sixteen months here, and, when it comes to rules like this, I’m very grateful for those prayers!

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