Subject: Re: Driving
Hi Ziners,

Landra - I haven't visited either the USA or Canada so I can't comment on driving there. I've driven in several European Countries and have found that the very high speeds you encounter on the German autobahns (where I've fortunaely only been a passenger) are more than a bit disconcerting. Unlike some German drivers on these death trails my idea of paradise is not zooming along at over 200 km/hr and then tailgating some unfortunate person who can't get their car do go at more than 150.

Thankfully I was only a passenger again on a recent visit to Bolivia, where I observed some interesting driving. However given the almot complete absence of any type of road signs outside the major cities (and often inside them too) most drivers were probably doing pretty well. There are substitutes for signs though. For example if one lane of a road is not available for use that seems to be generally indicated by dumping a load of rocks on it, which can be a big surprise to suddenly spot in your headlights when bowling along at high speed. Similarly if you see someone standing by the side of the road waving half a young tree at you it means that around the corner is a vehicle with a puncture or brakdown. Who needs one of those neat little red triangles in the boot when there are plenty of branches to cut and kids to wave them?

Here in Australia the accident and death and injury rate has been reduced by measures like compulsory breath testing and seat belt wearing and better roads. However we still have occasional horrific accidents on country roads where people are driving too fast to get round the only bend on the road for ten miles or run head-on into other vehicles. Also in the most remote areas of the north you sometimes encounter those massive road trains which will definitely never give way to you (or be able to stop in time) so you just have to get used to pulling off the road fast, hoping you don't disappear into an enormous hole or lose the bottom of your car, and getting covered in dust.

Like you I started driving in 1959 and in retrospect I think the worst driving I have witnessed has probably been my own as a young farm worker in the UK at that time. We had one particularly steep hill, where, if you were descending it with a tractor pulling a heavy load, the macho rule was to knock the tractor out of gear, zip down the hill without braking and immediately after a railway croosing, make a sharp right turn through the farm gate....

I often wonder how I'm still alive. One hapless co-worker who encountered the only train of the day on the crossing was lucky to survive, although he didn't keep his job.

Michael Sydney, Australia