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|Rules On EU Roads|
|Written by Cindy-Lou Dale|
|Tuesday, 05 February 2008 13:36|
My mechanic collected my car recently for its annual service. He hadn’t yet reached the end of the road before being rear-ended by a lady who was distracted by her two toddlers standing on the back seat. In Belgium parents do this, yet feel compelled to have numerous bumper stickers announcing there to be a child on board, suggesting that everyone else should take care.
When he called with the news I immediately knew who it was that hit my car as just the day before this lady (with the obligatory squabbling kids standing on the back seat) had reversed out of her driveway - without looking, directly into the path of an oncoming truck. In Belgium it's considered uncouth to hoot, instead everyone smiles. This lady even gave the truck driver a stately wave.
One of the many Belgian driving laws I find quite terrifying is the one which requires a driver to always give way to the right. As such vehicles from side streets can lunge directly into your path, as they have the right of way. In fact, these same suicidal drivers (usually driven by pensioners or a young mother with kids standing on the back seat) don't even pause or look to see if it’s safe to enter the intersection - they just presume you'll stop.
I came across an article in the local press recently, here is a translation:
Belgium, renowned for its beers and beer drinkers, is shunning the national beverage after a clampdown on drunk driving. National consumption and production slumped as tough drunk-driving laws introduced a year ago began to bite. A slowdown in beer drinking, which averaged 188 pints a person last year, fueled an estimated 5 percent drop in production. With one of the worst records in Europe for car accidents, Belgium introduced spot fines of $155 a year ago for drivers with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.5 milligrams per litre. The previous limit was 0.8 milligrams.
As drinking is a Belgian's national pastime I'm certain this law only applies to tourists. Put another way, I've never heard of a local being prosecuted. In fact, my husband’s PA boasted that following the Christmas office party she was pulled over and breathalysed. She failed and was given a spot fine. The police asked her if there was someone she could call to drive her home. She explained that she wanted to drive home on her own as her boyfriend, who was a minute behind her was far too drunk and she felt unsafe in his car. They waved her off and said she was to drive carefully.
Today I'm taking studio shots of some gorgeous jewelry and need to get cracking, but I'll leave you with this thought... driver's licences only became compulsory in Belgium in 1975.
I think it’s time to move… Germany is rather nice this time of year. In fact, I’m going there soon – a road trip through Germany’s castle country – for AT of course.