With a mother who has spent her entire career working for the largest auto insurance corporation in British Columbia, I was raised a defensive driver the moment I set foot in a car.
Despite her constant corrections and backseat driving that drove me nuts growing up, I’m now thankful and appreciative of the good habits she ingrained into my subconscious. Though somewhat heavy on the gas pedal, I honestly believe I’m a safe driver. When behind the wheel I’m constantly alert, routinely checking my mirrors and always sure to wear seatbelt. I’ll never put a passenger at risk or jeopardize my wellbeing when driving; it’s not worth it. Erring on the side of caution is smart – especially when you have no idea whom you’re sharing the road with.
Realistically, everyone has bad driving practices – some worse than others. However, I’m convinced that drivers in Europe are among the boldest and most aggressive behind a steering wheel. Admittedly so, I am a fast driver. At least that’s what I thought until I started driving through Luxembourg, Germany, France and Belgium. The drivers here are insane! The difference between North American and European drivers is quite startling. Aside from the busy, narrow streets of downtown city centers, the majority of European countries are expressways, where posted speed limits are few and far between. Thus, no matter how fast you believe you’re traveling, it’s likely much too slow by European standards.
Since I’m driving the highly powerful and much sought after Renault Twingo, I don’t quite have the pick up or acceleration the majority of cars in Europe possess (read: BMW’s, Mercedes, Audi’s, Porches and Volkswagons…). Therefore when cruising on the expressway at speeds up to 140km/hr, I’m often startled when a powerful Luxury car screams by me at an AVERAGE of 170+ km/hr (105mph). I literally feel my car shake as they pass and can only exhale with relief that I wasn’t clipped in the process. There’s no way my Twingo would survive a bump by a car moving at these incomparable speeds.
Most North American’s know 140km/hr (87mph) is a pretty good clip to be traveling at. At home, this is considered fast – especially with other cars in close proximity. However, here in Europe, I spend most of my time in the right lane (slow lane) except when passing drivers slower than me (which surprisingly, do exist). The moment I change to the left lane, inevitably, a huge luxury car will zoom up from out of nowhere and literally sit inches from my bumper while impatiently flashing its headlights. Really? Give me 5 seconds to pass the car on my right and I’ll get out of the way! It’s times like these when the intimidation factor plays a huge part in my driving decisions abroad. I get angry and upset with aggressive, impatient drivers. These situations make driving a stressful experience and at times, I don’t feel safe on the road. Even when I turn to glare at drivers as they pass, there is no reaction. It's the way of the road here and expected that when sitting inches from someone’s bumper, you make way. Ridiculous!
While these actions may work for Europeans, I find them quite dangerous. Whether someone is buzzing by at a high speed, quickly switching lanes to cut me off, or passing only to change into my lane and reduce speed so I have to brake, I find it extremely inconsiderate and rude. In addition, a high percentage of drivers here ignore the yield sign when merging onto expressways. Without so much as a glance towards the lane they’re changing into, they'll move over. I’ve been inches from colliding with another car, as I’ve been unable to change into the left lane as they start to merge. After all this, they look at me as if I’m at fault. Hell-ooooo, you have to yield to me! Defensive driving is a survival instinct in Europe and everyday I thank my mom for her incessant nattering, which created important driving habits I use everyday.
Basketball Update: I apologize for my absence and lack of posts the last few weeks. I’ve been busy with the Cup Finals, a trip to Paris with my mom and aunt while visiting Luxembourg. My brother arrives tonight, so I’ll have another visitor to keep me company for the next few days. As excited as our team was for the Cup Final, we played terrible. It definitely was not our day and Musel Pikes deserved the victory. Though managing to pull within 4 points with 4 minutes remaining, we were unable to get any closer. I was double and triple teamed all night inside and didn’t get many touches in the second half. It was a frustrating game. That being said, we bounced back last Friday and snagged a much-needed ‘W’ against Contern. We're currently sitting in second place and have secured a spot in the league semi-finals with one regular season match remaining. My body is starting to protest with the end of the season so near. I’m tired and my muscles are sore, but it’s crunch time!
Sidenote: Props to my girl Lindsey Wilson who made her debut with the Seattle Storm last night. Seven points in 13 minutes…holla!