Friday, July 29, 2011

Drive, He Said

'All you need to know about American society can be gleaned from an anthropology of its driving behaviour. That behaviour tells you much more than you could ever learn from its political ideas. Drive ten thousand miles across America and you will know more about the country than all the institutes of sociology and political science put together.'
Jean Baudrillard, America

5 Comments:

Blogger PeteY said...

There was an article I read recently celebrating the 20th anniversary of the introduction of British-style roundabouts in the US. Apparently there were problems because yielding to others and cooperating were considered unamerican.

July 29, 2011 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, like Brit driving habits tell me nothing.

Let's see...

Cut a Brit off, first he honks his horn. then he leans out the window and yells. Then he crashes into you. After that he gently applies his little brakes.

August 02, 2011 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Petsy, who wrote that article, another Brit? I've never seen any problems in a "roundabout". We call them traffic circles here, had them for ages.

August 02, 2011 2:54 PM  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Just two traffic circles in LA when I lived there (are there more now) but plenty of four-way intersections, and a lovely custom, as I recall, of allowing the car which arrived first to take precedence, with the rest following in clockwise manner. You could also cross five or six lanes of stalled traffic on a freeway by smiling and gesturing for permission. Driving in a couple of cities in the US seemed to me to be rather less unaggressive, but I've never had any real problems - even in New York, as long as you respect the microsecond response required for traffic signals (very like London, that).

This is, by the way, a blog which appreciates politeness and informed comments. Just saying.

August 03, 2011 5:27 PM  
Blogger PeteY said...

The article I was referring to is this one, I think. It explains the difference between US traffic circles and the British-style roundabout.

I'm not a driver so I can't really comment on road manners, except from a pedestrian's perspective. My impression was that US drivers are perhaps excessively courteous to pedestrians, stopping to let one cross if they even so much as look at the road, whereas in London they just mow you down mercilessly. In Italy, where I now live, people drive like maniacs and rarely stop even for people on zebra crossings.

August 05, 2011 12:00 AM  

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