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"Here in my car", said 80s pop hero Gary Numan, "I feel safest of all". He obviously never shared the same stretch of road as me, then. Automotive tales of mirth and woe, please.

(, Thu 22 Apr 2010, 12:34)
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800ks of terror
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Mrs Hound's folks in the heart of Russia - about 800k from Moscow.

Flying from Manchester to Moscow via Zurich, and somehow arrived to manage on schedule at 2:30am local time with the most ferocious hangover known to man. Is it just me who goes on monster piss-ups the night before flights?

Now all we had to do was an 800k drive.

In Moscow central the roads are "fine" but the rest of the roads further out are constructed from a combination of potholes and evil.

In Russia there are three types of people who wear seatbelts: Pussies, Foreign Tourists and seatbelt salesmen. When you buy a car with seatbelt alerts, friends will gift you little metal tags to insert instead of the actual seatbelt to stop the annoying 'ping ping' noise.

There are a mixture of very old cars (which putter along at 60ks or so on the correct side of the road) and the very new and powerful cars (which are *constantly* in an overtaking manouevre at 160+). The net effect is brown-trouser terror for 800ks as you realise that you're hurtling towards oncoming traffic which is hurtling towards you as fast as it can go.

When something gets in your way - unlike anywhere else I've ever driven - people do actually let you back in, which is basically done by jamming on the brakes at the last possible moment, and swerving in front of whatever is there.

Imagine racing towards a truck at 180ks, and swerving in just before you slam into it. Now imagine doing that for 7 hours or so. Terror is not the word. Actually - Terror describes it quite satisfactorily.

After a few hours I mentioned to the driver that this wasn't quite how we drove in Sydney. A gruff "well if you think you can do better" and I'm behind the wheel, on the wrong side of the road, after bugger all sleep and nursing both a throbbing head and an asshole that was twitching like a rabbit's nose.

Highlights - driving over a bridge while it was being repaired (no railings). Driving over a 16km road that hasn't been repaired - driving towards trucks at a speed of 160kph and swerving at the last moment to get out of their way.... and my favourite - driving on a road as it was being built. Literally, behind the earthmover scraping the way - removing the rubble of the old road - the driver just waved me to carry on, and I did like it was perfectly normal.

Two weeks later - it all seemed completely natural. Russia would be a great place to live if you have a very, very fast car or wanted to go out in an enormous fireball.

The words don't quite catch the terror, sorry for length, etc..

(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 14:19, 7 replies)
This is what Poland is like too
40 year old blokes who grew up driving a Fiat 126p once a week, suddenly thrust behind the wheel of a brand new Ford Mondeo or Audi A6, with way too much power, trying to blast the 400km from Warsaw to the seaside in a morning on single-lane carriageways lined with thick sturdy trees.

No wonder Poland has the highest road-deaths-per-thousand in the EU.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 15:00, closed)
Potholes and evil
the stuff quality roads are made of!

(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 15:08, closed)
I will never look at a rabbit's nose the same way again.

(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 15:32, closed)
800,000 what?
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 15:39, closed)

(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 15:52, closed)
Youtube has lots of videos of Russian roads and driving.
And Polish too, for that matter. Quite eye-opening, if you come from the UK.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 17:09, closed)

the car crash videos are pretty nasty. I saw a bus by the side of the road that had crunched, middle of nowhere and people limping away into the night.
(, Wed 28 Apr 2010, 5:15, closed)

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