For many years, I’ve been driving myself around Europe on vacation. Driving on the autobahn there is not a chore but a pleasure.

During this time, I’ve learned several lessons that I’ll share with those who are about to travel the expanses of Europe:

  1. Don’t honk. Honking is considered bad manners here. Only in the most extreme cases should you honk, for example, when you’re not noticed and there’s a risk of being hit. At a traffic light, even 5 seconds after the green light comes on, the drivers behind might patiently wait for you to move. So, don’t rush to honk like in Kazakhstan, where you beep milliseconds after the green light appears.
  2. Maintain distance on the highway. Approaching too close to the car in front of you on the highway is not recommended. It’s also considered impolite. At first, I remember, out of habit, I used to stick closely behind. However, I noticed that local drivers would nervously swerve to the right and let me pass. They’re not used to such close contact. Europeans highly value human life, so they avoid any minor danger or threat to it. Of course, some daredevils tailgate or even cut others off. But if you look closely at their license plates and faces, you’ll understand that they’re mostly tourists from the CIS or Eastern Europe.
  3. Don’t occupy the left lane unnecessarily. We’re used to driving on highways with the principle: “The further left I am, the cooler I am.” In Europe, they drive according to the principle: “I don’t occupy the left lane unless necessary.” So, in the beginning, I was surprised that even when the left lane was free, everyone drove in the middle or right lane and only switched to the left lane for overtaking. And after completing the overtaking maneuver, they would return to the middle or right lane again.
  4. Give Way to Others

If you’re used to driving in the left lane and a car behind you is catching up, then switch to the right lane in advance and let it pass. It won’t honk, it will patiently wait for a long time to overtake, but it can’t. You see, they don’t know that for us when someone overtakes us, it’s like a personal insult, so we’d rather die than give way. In the eyes of Europeans, you’ll simply appear uncivilized. Furthermore, if you’re driving on a narrow winding road (of which there are many in Italy) and there’s a line of 2-3 cars behind you, don’t be selfish, pull over to the right at the nearest pullout and let them pass. That’s the right thing to do.

5. Warn Others of Danger

If you brake suddenly on the highway, immediately turn on your hazard lights. By doing this, you’re warning those behind you to prepare for sudden braking. That’s how everyone does it here.

P.S. Europeans are behind us in one aspect. They haven’t yet thought of thanking each other by turning on their hazard lights. That’s purely our invention. I haven’t encountered it in any European country. And that’s a shame. Sometimes you want to say “thank you” when someone lets you pass.

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