Matt Greenop on motoring

Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Road rules Italian style

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What foreign traffic laws do you think we need in NZ? Let us know below. Photo / Dean Purcell.
What foreign traffic laws do you think we need in NZ? Let us know below. Photo / Dean Purcell.

A week blasting around Italy has demonstrated the very best and very worst of Europe in an admittedly very tasteful package.

The global financial crisis has hit Italy like a fiscal sledge to the face, and while some judicial road maintenance could certainly help create a less jarring autostrade experience in places, and the ridiculous number of speed cameras on said highways would seem more like an actual safety move than a beggar with his bowl out, in general the locals really know what they're doing.

The skill set of the average Italian at the wheel is significantly more advanced than New Zealanders - drivers seem extremely aware of what is going on around them and tend not to get underfoot - but there are areas where we've got them beat.

There is an overwhelming reticence to use indicators, a tendency to wave their arms about and shout, and an inability to stay in a lane.

Driving out of Bologna on the way to the Ghibli launch that Driven would have taken part in by time you read this, an extremely wide piece of road which could have easily taken three lanes each way had a centre line that occasionally appeared and was without doubt one of the most interesting displays of Euro road use I've seen.

Drivers simply went wherever they wanted, where Kiwis are more likely to form orderly queues and progressed with the occasional toot.

But the Bologna Death Race saw bikes, buses, those waspy little scooters, trucks, pedestrians and cars fighting for position.

Sure, if you were coming through there was some room made, but the lack of order was simply terrifying for someone used to the tamer New Zealand roads.

Speed limits on the autostrade were well-set and despite the revenue-chasing cams made a lot more sense than ours. Fast, wide and straight stretches came with 130km/h limits, while other areas were set at either 70, 90 or 100 km/h.

Traffic flowed well, especially with trucks forced to lower speed limits and legislated out of the fast lanes, but on big hills slow lanes almost became truck parking lots as dozens of rigs slowed to a crawl, often behind less powerful machines, forcing cars into the fast lane that should never have been there - like little C1s and Kangoos which are valve-bouncing by 130km/h.

What road rules have you encountered while travelling that could be applied well in New Zealand? Let us know at below.

- NZ Herald

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