By Jordan W. Charness

I love travelling. It’s always so interesting to see how different countries deal with the same set of circumstances that we have here. While driving laws are very often similar throughout the world, there are marked differences in how similar problems are approached.

It really is a good idea to find out what the locals laws, signs and driving customs are before heading out to distant shores. I remember when I first moved to England, it took a while to learn to look right before stepping off the curb. Since cars in England drive on the “wrong” side of the street, when you look to your left you do not see any cars coming in the lane closest to you and may erroneously assume that there are no cars coming. In fact they may well be coming from your right. There’s been many an accident when a tourist accidentally stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic because he or she looked the wrong way. Many major streets in tourist England now have signs painted on the road reminding people to “look right”.

When I lived in New Zealand I learned the meaning of a sign that I had never before seen in Canada. It said simply “Seal – Ends”. I had no idea what that meant until I had driven another kilometre or so when abruptly the paving disappeared and I was on a gravel road. Apparently “Seal – Ends” in New Zealand means unpaved road.

Even travelling through the United States, you will see signs that we do not have here in Canada. For instance, we rarely see a sign that reads, “Fines doubled in work areas” followed by a long stretch of highway that has absolute nobody working on it. The Americans also have signs prohibiting picking up hitchhikers near maximum security prisons. I guess they’re afraid that you might inadvertently help an escapee to get away.

Even signs that we are used to seeing may actually mean different things in different places. I can’t tell you how many deer crossing signs I have seen but never actually have seen a deer on or near a highway. On the other hand, a beautiful young lady I know in South Dakota assures me that they also have deer crossing signs and it is well known that there are two types of drivers in South Dakota: those who have hit a deer, and those who are going to hit a deer.

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