Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tips for Americans in Australia: Crossing the Road

Now this might seem obvious, but truly: Look to the right when you go to cross a road. You do not know how ingrained it is in you, a citizen of a right-side-drive country, to look to the left, where the nearest oncoming traffic will naturally be, when you cross the street. Once safely in the street you then naturally look to the right for oncoming traffic in the far lane. In Australia, where they of course drive on the left side, I can now say with experience, if you look to the left and amble into the road, then look to the right, you will see, in the lane you’re standing in, a tiny car with an Aussie driver, a Sydney driver, who has been programmed to drive in furious bursts between stops, barreling toward you. You will have a moment of contemptuous outrage: What the hell is that idiot doing in the wrong lane? You may even dash for safety into the far lane—looking, naturally, to the right—only to find that some idiot is driving the wrong direction in that lane, too. What the hell is wrong with this country? you will think, if the terror of being in the middle of a busy street with a bunch of apparently drunk Australians affords you the luxury of thought.

Thankfully, Aussie drivers, in my experience with people who shall remain unnamed for their (my) protection (in-laws!), are fully accustomed to using their automobile braking systems not as something to gently glide you to a halt, but rather to suddenly throw you to a seat belt crunching, lung-collapsing stop. And those drivers now parts-of-seconds away from smashing you to bits will, hopefully, do just that. And, after being subjected to a uniquely Australian barrage of curses and ridicule, you will finally find your way off the road, sweaty, red-faced, and confused, feeling like a tourist and a fool.

So will begin your reprogramming: looking to the right when crossing the road will begin to become as natural to you as recoiling at the sight of a spider the size of a pastry dish. Which, it should be added, could happen at any moment, including the second you make it off the road.

So, look to the right, my American friends, when venturing onto an Australian roadway, and avoid unnecessary danger and embarrassment. You can thank me later.


  1. Great thing to know some tips about Australia when crossing the road.

    1. Well thank you, Driving School person.