Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Asian Eyes' USA Tale - Weird Traffic

          I am an inquisitive and a context person by nature. I like to know why certain thing is done the way it is and how does it comes about. Here I compiled a list of the traffic difference between America and my home country.  I traveled to America quite often, so this list still stands correct to this day. For this blog I will write about driving in America. It s not a comprehensive list, and I am sure some learned reader would able to add more. A word of advise, if it is your first time visiting and only for a short period like 1 or 2 weeks, better do not drive. Get someone familiar with the America traffic system to drive or take LRT/MRT/Subway/bus/taxi. The jet lag and confusion of an opposite system compared to yours will likely make you prone to error. If for longer term, hire a driving instructor to give you the basic driving skills in America. It will cost some money but at least it will reduce the risk of you loosing a limb if not your life:

1. Driving - In America the driver seat is on the left of the car and one drive on the right side of the road. In Malaysia it is the opposite where the driver seat is on the right side of the car, and one drive on the left side of the road. When I have American guest who came over to Malaysia, most often they will go to the driver seat, thinking they were actually goes to the passenger seat. When that happens, I always asked "you wanna drive?" which the answer is mostly a no. I also noted that they are most worried about motorcycles that zoomed in and out in between cars' spaces.

2. Roundabout - This always confused me. In America, one enter the roundabout anti-clockwise while in Malaysia it is always clockwise. Same as you stopped at traffic light junction, you will take to the right side of a road when the light turns green. Occasionally there will be signboard that stated "wrong side" that helps lost traveller.

3. Pedestrian - In America, since the car was driven on the right side of the road, the adage of look left first in  'Left, Right. Left' had to be changed to 'Right, Left, Right' when crossing the road. Most drivers in America are courteous. They will stopped their car to let pedestrian cross the road. So, when in Rome, do as the Roman do. This courteous thing comes automatically.

4. Motorcycle - In America, a motorcycle occupy a parking spot or lane to itself, just like a car. The motorcycle is expected to queue up when waiting at the traffic light or caught in a jam, just like a car. In Malaysia, the motorcycle is expected to squeeze in between cars, and not expected to occupy a parking spot for cars. 

5. Traffic Light - In America, it is OK to turn right on a red light when there is no oncoming traffic, unless there is a sign stated "No Turn on Red'. However this is an offence in Malaysia where there is no left turn if the traffic light is red, irrespective whether there is or no oncoming traffic.

6. Entering Freeway - In America, a freeway is what we called highway in Malaysia. In America one would speed up his vehicle when entering a freeway rather than slowing down. This is to match the speed with the parallel traffic so that you can merge into the freeway lane. I failed this question when I sat for my learner's license at the start of my studies in USA.

7. Speed - In America, there is an upper limit and lower if speed in freeway. One may get caught if you drive too slow, which I was once stopped on this offence as written in one of my previous blog.

8. Signal Dial - In America, the position of signal and wiper dials are the exact opposite from ours. Get yourself familiarize with the dials before you drove off. Occasionally you will set the wrong dial, -switch on wiper instead of left signal. That is very common and hilarious when it happens, but after certain time you will get use to it. 

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