Russia. In many ways, itís a deeply influential centre of culture; take ballet, Tolstoy and Rachmaninoff, for example.
In other ways, Russia seems to go out of its way to highlight just how crazy it is. Weíre talking about a country also famous for its drinking ability and it actually ran out of vodka once.
Yes, there was a time when Russia actually drank all the vodka.
Now, when it comes to cars and driving in general, the Russians seem to live in another world. A world where the normal rules of society donít apply. A country with such a harsh and intolerable weather system, combined with a poorly maintained road infrastructure, that the rules of driving have been flagged down and beaten with a tyre iron.
Hereíre a few other things that might intrigue you about driving in Russia. For a start, it seems…
Almost every car has, or rather, needs a dashboard camera now
As mentioned previously, Russian roads are a nightmare. Not simply the conditions of the actual tarmac, but pretty much everything and anything that touches a road is a potential hazard to the weary Russian. From aggressive drivers to the low number of road directions, youíll find that accidents are pretty common.
Also, insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with and thereís a higher than usual number of people trying to scam or fake insurance claims over there. This is why thereís an ever increasing amount of cars that have dashboard cameras fitted now.
These Ďdash-camsí are able to record all driving activity. If something does happen to go wrong, and itís not the driverís fault, then they have video evidence to show the police and insurance firms, protecting their interests from the mad circus that exists on the highways.
Because of the inherent dangers on Russian roads, it seems that another surprising element of driving is turning up. If you didnít know, you may be surprised to learn that…
They have their own secret codes
Most Russians are decent people just trying to get from point A to point B. However, there are those that make it difficult for the rest. This is why the frequent drivers of Russia have developed their own particular set of signals to help each other out.
For example, if you get flashed by an oncoming car, itís usually to warn that traffic police are up ahead with a speed camera. In addition, if you are being overtaken and the driver beeps and gives you the thumbs down, they are not criticising your driving. Rather, they are kindly letting you know you have some tyre issues.
Truck drivers even help out (amazingly) by indicating with their lights whether itís okay for the car directly behind to pass them or not.
Things are also made a little more difficult on Russian roads seeing as…
The driverís position is in the worst possible location.
In Russia, you drive on the right side of the road. Which isnít much of a big deal. Most countries do it.
Itís estimated over 1.5 million cars in Russia are right handed driving. The reasons for this involve the Far East, believe it or not. They are the main supplier for a lot of cars in the country. However, cars built in places like Japan are designed for left-side driving, which is what they do in Japan.
In a nutshell, this means a lot of drivers will be sitting on the right hand side of the car.
On the right hand side of the road.
Itís statistically the worst (read: most dangerous) place for drivers to be. It restricts vision and can impair real visual distance whilst driving. †For years, the government has tried to rectify this, but itís gained little ground.
The point here is clear; donít get too attached to your car in Russia. Due to the undoubtedly erratic driving patterns, it seems the Russian people would benefit from some used cars or leasing rather than buying vehicles outright. It would certainly be cheaper!
[Image source: samtoman.files.wordpress.com,,i1.ytimg.com, and †en.rian.ru/analysis/20121003/176382673.html]