Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Another difference

I may well be misquoting him, but I think it was Winston Churchill who said the Britain and America are two nations separated by a common language. Or something like that. Actually, our "common language" can lead to some humerous misunderstandings, although I'm blowed if I can think of any right now. I suspect that all who read this know that the car boot is the same as the trunk and bonnet = hood (in terms automobilic). Sidewalk = pavement and pavement = road. Chips = crisps and fries as well. Confusing, isn't it?

Far more confusing the a Brit who dares to drive in the States are the different rules of the road, in particular the rule about overtaking and which lane to drive in. In Europe (not just the UK) the rule is that on a multi-lane road one keeps to the nearside except when overtaking. In England that means keeping to the left. In the rest of Europe, to the right - as it would be in the States. None of this cruising along in the second lane when the first is empty. Stay in the right-hand lane, pull out to overtake (pass) a slower vehicle, then move back. (In France they tend to start moving back even before they have completely passed one - which is highly disconcerting.)

It follows from the above that one does not pass another vehicle on the other driver's nearside. In Europe, I mean. Driving on a motorway/autoroute/autobahn/freeway in the States, I found it strange that I was expected to stay in the same lane regardless of whether lanes to my right were empty or not and that other vehicles were as likely to pass on my right as my left.

I even got worried just watching that video on Skip's blog the other day!

6 comments:

The Broad said...

It was years before my husband understood the line from Oklahoma: "Corn as high as an elephant's eye" referred to sweet corn and not to wheat!

Uncle Skip, said...

I'm sure I have some comment about drivers over here... I'm just trying to find a way to say something positive.

Brighton Pensioner said...

That shouldn't be too difficult, Skip. How about something along the lines of "I'm positive most of the other drivers are idiots".

Buck said...

Having driven on both sides of the Atlantic I'd say the folks on your side are the better drivers. I think it's because of the licensing rigor. In most places in the States any sentient being that walks on two legs and can receive light automatically qualifies for a driver's license.

Brighton Pensioner said...

Oh dear. I fear I may have expressed myself poorly. I wasn't criticising drivers Californian, American or English - just commenting on different rules of the road.

Uncle Skip, said...

Brian - the rules of the road are the issue. It seems like most folks over here treat them as a suggestion.