What I like about driving in Russia
In comparison with the tiny European roads, Russian roads are really vast. Even an average two-lane road is twice as big as the one in England. I really dread driving in England because of the narrow roads and the numerous cyclists and motorcyclists who like to play rough and overtake cars in a dangerous manner.
There are almost no cyclists on Russian roads and very few motorcyclists. Russian roads are just not designed for cyclists. I know they are trying to launch something similar to London’s Boris Bikes in Moscow but people are still very unwilling to try it out. Besides, Russians’ love for enormous cars makes it almost impossible to spot a cyclist and Russian laws don’t protect them as well as the European laws.
Although there’s apparent road rage on the Russian roads, people still thank one another and even flash their lights at one another to indicate that there’s a police car around the corner. It’s very common for Russian police to hide behind the bushes or to park in a low visibility spot trying to catch speeding drivers. And yet Russians have found their way around it.
If you drive well in Russia, driving anywhere else is a piece of cake. You get such great experience driving in harsh weather conditions and sharing a 12 lane road with some really reckless people. You turn into a real tough cookie after a few years of driving in Russia.
There aren’t as many roundabouts as in England. Have you actually seen British roundabouts? They are honestly the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. You can have up to 8 exits with a few more roundabouts ahead. The sat nav tells you to take exit 5 and by the time you’ve counted them all you’ve missed yours.
Jaywalking is illegal which reduces the chance of the driver running over a pedestrian. I think it’s brilliant as there’s already enough stress to cope with.
Driving from one city to another opens up loads of beautiful views – forests, fields and mountains. It’s a breathtaking and forgettable experience.
Although in some countries it’s considered a myth, in Russia you can legitimately go above the speed limit by 10 kilometres.
What I dislike about driving in Russia
Road rage can be really daunting. If you are involved in a car accident, the other driver might have a go at you and direct loads of abuse to you. Yet most will remain calm and behave in a respectable manner. After two hours of both drivers playing the blame game the police arrive. They have to make the decision who’s to blame for the accident. Unfortunately you can’t just exchange the insurance details and get on with your life although I think they are trialling this in some areas. It does waste half of your day and causes congestion on the road hence why drivers get so outraged.
Driving in winter is dangerous especially for those who are new to driving. The death rate caused by car accidents is very high in Russia compared to other countries. In winter it doubles. I took free driving lessons for two years as part of my school programme and driving in winter was always challenging for me. In general, the roads are very wide and icy with unexpected hairpin turns in some parts.
You have to change tyres twice a year and they are so expensive. In winter you need proper tyres with spikes to prevent your car from sliding. In summer you need to change back to your usual tyres.
Due to such unstable and severe weather conditions, the concrete or tarmac roads deteriorate very quickly. If you’ve driven in Russia, especially in the suburbs, you might’ve come across many portholes. For the most bone-rattling experience take the least popular route where no one looks after the roads.
I really look forward to learning to drive in England as I miss driving and the freedom it brings.