10 November 2011

Driving in reverse

Driving here in Wellington can be a pleasure, although I had not been really doing much of it because I have been quite conscious of my carbon footprint. But there are instances that I have to, especially since there aren't exactly jeepneys and tricyles around, and driving the car is loads cheaper than taking a cab. I would more readily take a bus though than, say, drive to work.

While it is general knowledge that people drive on the left side of the road here (which is the opposite of what we are accustomed to back in the Philippines), there are other things that one needs to observe here:

- in the Philippines, we flash our headlights when we want to drive ahead or cross an intersection and others would like to do so. Flashing the headlights here in New Zealand means the exact opposite: if you flash your headlights, you are informing the other driver that you are giving way.

 - there is a Give Way rule which means that vehicles to your right have the right to move first before you do.

This Give Way rule is actually confusing. An example we experienced before was an intersection where we were going to drive straight ahead. But at the opposite lane in front of us, the car is signalling to turn to the road to our left, which effectively meant he was coming from our right, so we had to give way. But the rule book stated that if we were going on a straight path, then we would have right of way. Another but: if in doubt, use the Give Way rule! So we were not sure and so we were trying to wait for what the other vehicle would do when the lights changed. It was a good number of seconds before we both started moving at the same time. And then we decided to floor it. Confusing indeed. There will be changes to the Give Way rule though in 2012 which should make things easier to discern, especially at intersections.

- Pedestrians have the right of way at pedestrian crossings (common sense and common courtesy).

- A lot of accidents happen due to drink driving.  It is amazing how I've been to a number of drinking sessions in Manila - driver drinking too - and we were able to go home unscathed.  Maybe the beer here is much stronger, as we are accustomed to drinking San Mig Light only.  Social drinkers, that's what we are.  No vodkas and tequilas.  Also, I guess the law is not really imposed that much there.  But the attitude here is different.  If you get flagged and you fail the breath test, then you pay the consequence.  So don't drink and drive.
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