Sep 17, 2012

Driving around in Sydney

Those who have been passengers in my car might be a little surprised, but I am a different driver here in Sydney. I drive a lot slower, I look out for pedestrians all the time and I am slow to go when the light turns green.

Living life without a pressing need to be at a place at a certain time, while fighting chaotic and sometimes standstill traffic to make it there, does make a difference. But a good deal of my driving habits are forced by the traffic 'patterns' here.

1) You have to look out for pedestrians
In Malaysia, cars look at traffic signs, If your light is green you go; if it is red, you stop. People look out for cars, so drivers can go about their own way.
Here, lights for pedestrians, and lights for cars, crossing the same intersection, can turn green AT THE SAME TIME! People aren't quite so aware of traffic, so you have to look out for them, and it matters not whose 'right of way' it is.

2) Green doesn't always mean go.
At a T-junction, the lights can be green for both opposing watch out if you want to turn.
Despite the vagueness of the traffic signals, accidents are rare here. The fewer cars on the road, and the more courteous drivers, makes the system work.

3) Cars can park along the road on a highway or a main road.
This means that while you are travelling at 60km/h along a 'highway', the road in front of you can suddenly have a string of parked and stationary cars! This necessitates you coming to a stop while you attempt to change lanes. Thankfully, drivers are courteous here, and sometimes stop for you, even before you signal.

One thing I definately don't miss, is watching out for motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic. In Malaysia, the motorbikes 'default' lane is the one in between cars. And they don't even travel in a straight line, but in S shape curves. So if you are changing lanes, a motorbike can suddenly pop out of nowhere and zip in between you and the next car, whizzing by with an inch of space to spare. Even if not changing lanes, getting your side mirror banged by the handles of these passing motorbikes is such a common thing, people hardly bother to rage about it anymore.

Here, motorbikes (what few there are), actually queue behind cars.

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