Tips on what to expect from Italian drivers

Tips on what to expect from Italian drivers

Tips on what to expect from Italian drivers

If you’re heading to Italy to take on a new job, being aware of Italian driving habits could save your life!

It’s a well-known fact that Italian drivers all behave as if they’re competing in a Grand Prix, but how far from the truth is this belief? The belief that red lights are optional, aggressive driving, impatient and horn-blowing and far too fast describe foreign opinions of Italian motorists, but are these stereotypes genuine or are they just a legend? If you’re determined to drive in Italy or have no options as it’ll be part of your job, all the above may well be true, but there are other, more dangerous habits you should be aware of.

The first is wavering across two lanes on the autostrada as you’re happily breezing along in the outside lane. Is the car you’re just about to pass really drifting towards you and back again towards the hard shoulder? Is the driver really illegally texting on his mobile or is he just drunk? Probably both. Another version of this disturbing driving habit is straddling the line in the centre of the road and expecting you to take the necessary evasive action rather than overtaking as you’d planned. Slowing down, keeping far to the right and praying are all required responses to this.

In cities, you’ll have already noticed that using indicators is yet another optional activity, as is obeying traffic lights. If an indicator is used, it’s still be on halfway to the next town. Alternatively, if an indicator suggests a right-hand turn, preparing for a left-hand one is advisable. Italian drivers adore hazard lights and keep them on as long as they can, including when they’re cruising at 130-plus km/h. Taking any indication as a genuine attempt to inform other drivers is a bad mistake, with expecting the unexpected the only answer.

Being constantly aware of side roads, junctions and other road anomalies is essential when driving on Italian roads, even although you’re possibly the only motorist who’s doing so. One favourite Italian habit is getting out of a car whilst it's still moving, a manoeuvre which involves slowing down, switching off the engine and putting one foot on the ground before the car’s actually come to a halt. It’s fun to watch, as more often than not, the driver gets it wrong with predictable consequences. Changing gear is also optional for a large number of Italian drivers, most of whom just love the noise!

Parking a car in Italy also appeals to watchers who love drama, as kerbs, yellow lines and other vehicles aren’t considered at all important, especially when parallel parking is required. To Italian drivers, bumpers are for bumping as an indication the next car in line is in the wrong place. Parking-watching is best done from the terrace of a nearby bar or restaurant and can give hours of endless fun. By now, you’ve probably realised there’s only one way to cope with driving in Italy – go with the flow!

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