Margarita Kondratyeva
"Movement for Safe Traffic" member


17 August 2011

On the way from Moscow to Minsk I quickly identified the stranger on the road. Leaving from a filling station to the highway using the acceleration lane the driver - I saw in the left back mirror of my car - switched lanes giving me chance to merge into the traffic in the right lane. "I bet he is a foreigner" said I to my husband entering the available free lane. A VW with EU license plate took over and I spotted letter "D".
My colleague – a rooky driver - asked for advice: what was, after all, the best way to enter the flow from a minor road, if nobody on the principal road is letting you in. And how to switch lanes not risking your life or a chance of getting a bumper - denter.
"What I do is I turn on the turn light and swing the front of my car to the right. Others have nothing to do but to let me in I explain to the colleague. - But every time I cross paths with expensive cars and I'm scared. "True, said I, but there is no other way in Russia", - I agreed.
Switching lanes I also turn on the "blinker" I hope that other drivers will let me drive in. Thrusting the "muzzle" I consider being an obtrusive and extreme technique. I even try to establish an eye contact with drivers traveling in adjacent lane. It seems that they have their cervical vertebra squeezed. The keep looking straight ahead. Deadpans.
When the fifth car is passing me by I start cursing under my breath. Then I trust the muzzle to the right entering the main road in front of an expensive car. Risking my life and exposing myself to a potential bumper-denter.

A tangible shock is felt when I return to driving Russian roads from driving abroad. Having driven three weeks the Spanish roads it takes me three days to get used to the deadpans. I am literally shocked by unpredictability of maneuvers and manners. During the three weeks in Spain I managed almost to forget that you can be "cut" on the road and that other drivers will not let you enter the traffic or expose to the risk by reckless driving.

Once in Spain I stopped in a dead end. Cars were parked on both sides. Backing in reverse would mean I will collect all of them. While I was pondering what to do, four or five good-natured Spaniards waving their hands and gesturing went to my car. The escape turn on the spot was made almost manually each Spaniard participating in the exercise. I got out from the dead end without consequences with tears of gratitude. Five good Spaniards waved at me.
Everybody is composed in parking lots when a car in front of you is waiting for fifteen minutes for a vacant parking slot. Left lane is used only for taking over. Head lights are flashed only as an emergency warning. Barely stepping on the road the pedestrian stops all the traffic. I can swell in the manners and maneuvers of European drivers for hours.
Traffic culture is speaking of the culture of the nation as a whole. In underground carriages are old ladies are standing and in front of them – with a deadpan – there are young, healthy men sitting. They also have thoracic vertebrae squeezed.

Vendors are obtrusive, the waiters ignore visitors, officials ask for bribes. The boys in school are rushing for the door knocking down girls on the way. Babies are fighting with scoops inside sandboxes. Their parents – deadpans – are smoking on the benches.

On the road from Belgrade to Salonika I easily identified my countryman on the road. He was speeding in the left lane at the speed about 200 swiping by his headlights the cars that were crawling at 120 km / h which was the speed limit in the country. "He is Russian" - I routinely put my bet with my husband. Past us a "Lexus" swished with the nation’s flag and the area code of 177. I stayed away from welcoming my countryman by blinking headlights. I was ashamed I live in the same country with him.



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