What foreigners think: Germany is the land of the “Autobahn”. You can drive anywhere as fast as you want.
What it’s really like: Even though speed is not limited on approx. 70% of the German autobahn network, the roads are often so full that a de facto speed limit has been established, effectively putting the brakes on the German driving style. The main cause is stop-and-go traffic or congestion. In 2016, over 419000 hours of traffic jam were recorded – a rising trend.
What foreigners think: Italians like to curse and tailgate.
What it’s really like: According to a survey conducted by the research institute Ipsos, 71% of Italians confirm the cliché. But it’s the other drivers they mean. When asked about their own driving behaviour, the average self-appraisal was a score of 8 (1=worst / 10=best).
What foreigners think: The Swiss driving style is as precise as Swiss clockwork.
What it’s really like: When it comes to keeping to the speed limit, the Swiss do tend to be rather precise. For good reason. If you drive even 25 km/h over the official 120 km/h speed limit, it’s considered a criminal offence. The amount you are fined also depends on your income. In 2010, a Swedish driver was caught in a Swiss speed trap driving 290 km/h. The fine was an incredible 782,000 euros (approx. exchange rate).
What foreigners think: Norwegians are tolerant – relaxed and good-natured, like all Scandinavians.
What it’s really like: No Norwegian would contradict. But when it comes to smoking, they are indeed intolerant. Their anti-tobacco law even forbids you to smoke in your own car. If you are caught driving with a cigarette in a town, you have to pay a fine of approx. 175 euro. To promote the law, there was an advertising campaign with the slogan: “The only thing we smoke here is salmon.” Norwegians do have a sense of humour, it seems.
What foreigners think: It’s like the Wild West on the streets of the East.
What it’s really like: Let’s take Moscow. A mega-million metropolis. With tons of traffic. Particularly at rush hour. Of course, it gets a bit heated from time to time. But as soon as there’s an accident that damages a car, the parties involved have to wait for the police, and cannot move their vehicles. Even if they’re blocking traffic. Because the falsification of any accident-related evidence is considered a misdemeanour. Talk about orderly!
What foreigners think: Cows block the streets and cannot be chased away or touched.
What it’s really like: It’s true. Cows are considered holy in the Hindu religion. But time has not stood still in India. Stray cows in the capital of New Delhi now all have microchips, so their location can be tracked. If a cow is hit by a car on a toll road (yes, they even wander on to motorways!) the road operator has to pay for veterinarian costs and transport.
What foreigners think: Americans drive huge, gasoline-guzzling pickup trucks.
What it’s really like: That was once upon a time. The fact is that even Americans are becoming more environmentally conscious. Laws that massively restrict the use of cars with large motors have already been passed and will go into effect in the future. By 2025 at the latest, new cars can have a maximum fuel consumption of only 4.3 litres/100km. The booming market for electric cars shows that the law is already causing a change of heart in Americans. According to registration statistics, over 130,000 electric cars were sold in 2016 alone. That’s an effective sales increase of 33% compared to the previous year.
Whether it’s cows on the motorway, streets without speed limits or smoked salmon - what is the best way to get an idea for how people drive in different countries? Go there! It’s the most enjoyable way for sure. Drive safely!