Why driving in the US is better than at home (Australia)

watto

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From here.

I spent the last 2 weeks driving from Seattle to LA. Wind, rain, snow, LA traffic, Oregon wilderness, 4 way stops (and three roundabouts!?) - I saw it all and absolutely LOVED it.

IMG_20140329_162309.jpg
(The rental. Truckee, CA)

1: Speed Limits

More like - speed limits? Specifically highway limits. I am loath to creep more than 3km/h above the speed limit on freeways here in Victoria for fear of a $186 fine and 3 demerit points. What a joy it was to cruise along in the rental Dodge Grand Caravan at 75mph in a 65 zone (and 80 in 70)- I was overtaking a healthy amount of cars and was being overtaken myself, but 75 felt just right.

Felt bizarre to drive past a cop car 10mph over the limit and not immediately be followed. (happened a handful of times) Also, your lack of speed cameras is magical! I saw one red light camera in LA and that was it for the entire 1600 mile trip. Nirvana.

2: 4-way-stops

I still don't understand why you just don't have roundabouts but the 4 way stop made sense pretty quick. I gathered it was first come first serve so that's what I did. It works. It's simple... Still, I love a good roundabout.

3: Turn right on red

This is massive. Why make a car wait at traffic light to turn right when there's no traffic coming from the left? IT WORKS. Less stop start, potentially smoother traffic flow, better fuel economy etc etc. It was mighty enjoyable freaking out my passengers with the first few right on reds but man, such a good rule.

Canberra and some intersections in Sydney allow you to turn left on red (our equivalent, opposite side of the road remember) but only when signed - It would work well in Melbourne but I think there'd just be too much re-education to make it work... And the red light cameras would have to go.

4: Snow driving

I've done a lot of snow driving here in the Australian mountains so felt comfortable. My passengers did not (I told them to shut up and deal with it). Around Crater Lake and Tahoe we saw several fresh compacted inches on the ground. The Dodge had all seasons with surprisingly good tread depth on the front - it went so much better than expected.

My comment is more around doing 50mph between Truckee and Tahoe on the main road. Heavy traffic, heavy snowfall, high winds - yet nothing went wrong. Fellow drivers kept their distance, everyone cruised along sensibly - drove to the conditions perfectly.

It was such a contrast to driving in the mountains here. You can pick the people who put too much confidence in their AWD, who think because there's snow on the road they need to do 10kmh and those that think because there's snow on the road their summer tyres (which every Australian car has) will still work the same.

The weather was shit but the drive was relaxing. Loved it.

5: Highway One

Splooge.

6: The Dodge

I've never driven a minivan before. Man this car was excellent! 7 adults, a metric f tonne of luggage. Cruise control was faultless, ridiculous amount of luggage space (that underfloor area? Brilliant!)

It was filthy by the end, did about 23mpg and didn't miss a beat. Bloody comfortable driving position as well. Nice one Dodge.

7: General broadcast to California drivers

DO YOU KNOW WHAT AN INDICATOR IS?

Yep, loved it. 9/10, would do again. Just get more roundabouts.
 
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argatoga

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I'm pretty sure no speed limits were broken if it took two weeks to travel from Seattle to L.A.
 

watto

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Mate, with 7 people and about 200kg of luggage, 75 was more than enough. Hit 80 a couple of times and the rear suspension did not like that one bit.
 

RdKetchup

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I kinda lived the opposite, drove in Western Australia for a month (mostly in Perth).

Perfect road surface, great selection of cars, yet people drive so slow I wanted to rip my hair off!

Zero lane discipline (so many right lane huggers), red lights that last forever, made worst by people taking 10 seconds to react when the light turn green (and then making sure to use another full 10 seconds to reach 50km/h).

I would still move there :)
 

Matt2000

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Interesting, although saying an Dodge people box is excellent makes me question your credibility. :p

I'm pleased that by the sound of things UKania is kind of right in the middle in a lot of senses.
 

mjk

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I don't know about the West Coast, but here in New England, we do have roundabouts: we call them rotaries and they tend to show up when multiple (more than 2) streets come together at the same spot.
 
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LeVeL

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:thumbsup:

More like - speed limits? Specifically highway limits. I am loath to creep more than 3km/h above the speed limit on freeways here in Victoria for fear of a $186 fine and 3 demerit points. What a joy it was to cruise along in the rental Dodge Grand Caravan at 75mph in a 65 zone (and 80 in 70)- I was overtaking a healthy amount of cars and was being overtaken myself, but 75 felt just right.
What the... You Aussies actually follow speed limits? 10mph over the limit won't get you pulled over in the States so even in congested New England 80mph+ in a 65 is perfectly normal. On one particular stretch of highway in MA, I've cruise at 95mph with lots of traffic around doing the same speed. Out west, 100mph+ can be pretty normal.


This is massive. Why make a car wait at traffic light to turn right when there's no traffic coming from the left? IT WORKS. Less stop start, potentially smoother traffic flow, better fuel economy etc etc. It was mighty enjoyable freaking out my passengers with the first few right on reds but man, such a good rule.
Hint: it's legal to turn LEFT on red if you're turning from one one-way street onto another.


My comment is more around doing 50mph between Truckee and Tahoe on the main road. Heavy traffic, heavy snowfall, high winds - yet nothing went wrong. Fellow drivers kept their distance, everyone cruised along sensibly - drove to the conditions perfectly.
Up in MA, people turn into completely imbeciles when it snows. SUVs speed like maniacs and crash left and right; everyone else goes 10mph even when it's barely snowing.


I've never driven a minivan before. Man this car was excellent! 7 adults, a metric f tonne of luggage. Cruise control was faultless, ridiculous amount of luggage space (that underfloor area? Brilliant!)
It was filthy by the end, did about 23mpg and didn't miss a beat. Bloody comfortable driving position as well. Nice one Dodge.
My family's never had big cars but I love my gf's Grand Cherokee. Drove that thing about 6 hours through a snowstorm once and it just cruised along happily at 70mph. Incredibly comfortable (albeit thirsty) highway cruiser.
 

_HighVoltage_

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Four way stop signs can be neat sometimes, but in residential areas they are a huge pain. I assume a lot of them are result of "concerned residents" petition efforts, but there are four way stop signs on every single block! WHY? There is no heavy traffic, designate one of the streets as the main one with no stp signs and only put stop signs on the side streets. But oh no...
 

JakeRadden

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Yup. Specifically for me, I-72 from Hannibal, Mo to Springfield, Mo, then I-55 from Springfield, MO all the way up to Chicago (My regular Kansas City -> Chicago route when I was living in KC). Speed limit is 65 along the way, I usually cruised with a convoy at around 90-110 for 80% of the journey (Outside of cities and the like).

Turning left on red, from one-way to one-way, is one of my favorite things in Chicago. No one knows it's legal. It feels like I'm cheating when I do it.
 

LeVeL

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Aren't those the speeds typically mentioned on highway police chase news items? Or sometimes even slower... :D
Those chases all happen in LA :lol: Seriously though, my friend was driving a rental from New Mexico to west Texas and he said that the road is dead straight for hundreds of miles through the desert with pretty much no other cars. He cruised at ~115mph for several hours. Another friend did 110mph for hours on end from Colorado into Utah. This is yet again indicative that high speeds are not inherently dangerous.
 

GraemeH

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We loved driving in America when we done our 3500 mile road-trip there.
The signed speed limits were usually too low, but fuck it, the place is so open with so much visibility you'd see a parked up police car a mile away.

Four way stop signed junctions are some Illuminati magnets shit. At first we thought it was just us that didn't know what to do. Then we slowly realized nobody knows what to do, they just get there then creep out cautiously.

Road conditions, awesome. Road size, awesome. Weather, awesome. Gas station and motel regularity and cost, awesome. Traffic, or lack thereof, awesome (srsly, people say LA is congested? Try getting out of Glasgow on a Friday night).

No prick having the faintest idea which lane to use, not so awesome, but nothing's perfect.

9/10, would drive again.
 

watto

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Road conditions, awesome. Road size, awesome. Weather, awesome. Gas station and motel regularity and cost, awesome. Traffic, or lack thereof, awesome (srsly, people say LA is congested? Try getting out of Glasgow on a Friday night).
I forgot to mention gas prices!! SO CHEAP!

Interesting, although saying an Dodge people box is excellent makes me question your credibility. :p
hahaha. For a minivan, it did a bloody excellent job.

My family's never had big cars but I love my gf's Grand Cherokee. Drove that thing about 6 hours through a snowstorm once and it just cruised along happily at 70mph. Incredibly comfortable (albeit thirsty) highway cruiser.
Yeah, it was incredibly comfortable and solid. Loved it.

In terms of the speeds, I'd certainly have gone faster if I'd had a more suitable car and much less weight in the car.
 

BlaRo

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You forgot one thing: the part where you get to eat In-N-Out.

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"Pretty good!" - watto
 

Red_Bull

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:thumbsup:


What the... You Aussies actually follow speed limits? 10mph over the limit won't get you pulled over in the States so even in congested New England 80mph+ in a 65 is perfectly normal. On one particular stretch of highway in MA, I've cruise at 95mph with lots of traffic around doing the same speed. Out west, 100mph+ can be pretty normal.
We kinda have to. There are that many fixed and mobile speed cameras that to continually drive 15kmh+ over the limit is asking for trouble. Victoria where watto is from is particularly bad but the other states are catching up :(. And people here drive like pussies because of that and the constant bombardment of the 'speed kills' advertisements. Therefore they drive around looking at their speedos, wandering along in the right hand lane totally oblivious to the traffic around them (or more exactly, behind them).
 

Eunos_Cosmo

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If it was one of the newer Dodge van's it probably had the pentastar v6. Those things haul ass.
 

Hbriz

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We kinda have to. There are that many fixed and mobile speed cameras that to continually drive 15kmh+ over the limit is asking for trouble. Victoria where watto is from is particularly bad but the other states are catching up :(. And people here drive like pussies because of that and the constant bombardment of the 'speed kills' advertisements. Therefore they drive around looking at their speedos, wandering along in the right hand lane totally oblivious to the traffic around them (or more exactly, behind them).
Yeah Victoria is dangerous. At least they signpost where the speed cameras are in NSW, in Victoria you set your cruise control at 115 and before you know it, a camera is right there and you're fucked.
 
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