Having driven quite a LOT around in Europe lately, I felt like I wanted to express some feelings regarding European highways. I could go on and on for hours about this, but let me try to keep it a bit short (oh, even though you don’t care about European highways, bear with me… there is a point to it all...). First, a quick summary of the various highways:
France: Generally sucks because the French could not agree on ONE common system, so the highway is owned by about 2 million different companies, leading to that you have to stop every 5 km or so to pay the road toll.
Holland: Well, at least there are no hills, but I wouldn’t go so far as calling these REAL highways, as it’s always too crowded to get some speed up. Sorry, it’s just too much of a dense country. Bonus point for no road tax though.
Switzerland: You just have to admire those swiss and how they managed to build such a high-tech system in a country FULL of mountains. Road tax equals a sticker (vignette) which is cheap and lasts for a year – meaning no stopping and paying all the time. Even though… they are REALLY tough on the speed-limits and nobody really goes faster than allowed (Oh, and I hope you enjoy tunnels!).
Scandinavia: Should be ashamed to even call it highways, you can’t even go fast!
Germany: Seriously, this is my ONE favorite thing in Germany: the HIGHWAY. Sorry, I almost feel like I’m offending it by using that word – I meant AUTOBAHN! We all know who we have to thank for the construction of it, but let’s not go into details here. The German highway is the BEST. full stop.
Italy: People drive like…. CRAZY!
OK, now, what I really noticed driving along all these various highways is how the different countries deal with the problem of people getting tired and causing accidents (really, it happens very often and is a serious problem). German Autobahn used to have a bad reputation for the accident-rates, especially in the night time, and nowadays trucks are for example forbidden to use the cruise-control. BUT – that’s not enough. Various campaigns are up all over the country, trying to remind you that it is more important to get home safe than to get home as quickly as possible.
Very often around Germany you can see signs along the road which look more or less like this:
Now, in Italy they have taken a different approach to the problem, which I actually found rather helpful myself when driving through Italy one night (because I had to be somewhere at a certain time I really could NOT take a nap)… I am NOT joking, this is the message they give you in Italy:
OK, the coffee really IS good… and when you stop to fill your car up, they usually even give you a coffee for free (if you buy gas for more than 20€). But it’s still a bit more… of… an… let’s call it… ITALIAN approach to the whole problem 🙂
Edited: Forgot to mention… these are not the EXACT signs on the road… but as I was driving myself I couldn’t take pictures. Sorry, but really, this is REALLY what they say! (except that in Italy the sign is in Italian… and in Germany it’s in German, I translated that for your convenience).