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Driving – A Comparison

April 2, 2021

I have driven on several continents and seen many different driving habits. However I have been the most struck by the comparison of driving in the United States and Italy. Here are a few examples of what driving laws mean in these two countries:

  • The stop sign. In The US it means stop, period! In Italy it is an informal suggestion that one follows if they’re in the mood.
  • No passing. In the United States most people obey such signs. In Italy, the same signs challenge the driver to spin the wheel of fortune and see what happens.
  • Yield. This is usually taken to mean that the “other guy” has the right of way. In Italy, it doesn’t mean a thing at all.
  • Work Zone. In the US all vehicles must slow down in posted work zones or face huge fines. If one slows down in a work zone in Italy, they are usually shouted at by the workers themselves and told to get moving.
  • Passing a School Bus. Passing a school bus in the United States pretty much guarantees a loss of your license along with huge fines. In Italy, it is pretty much the same as the work zone.
  • Following Too Close. In the US, we tend to use the old adage about a car length of space for every ten miles per hour of speed. So if we are going 60 MPH, we should keep 6 car lengths behind the car in front of us. In Italy, it is slightly different. They keep a model car’s length between themselves and the car in front of them.
  • Whether it’s a lane change or a turn, we are required to use a signal in the United States. In Italy, you’re lucky to see one blink for a lane change right in front of you and turning? Forget about it!
  • Hand Signals. They are still used in the US, quite often by rural drivers with tractors, etc. In Italy the only hand signal you will ever see is the middle finger extended gracefully in your direction.
  • In the US, parking enforcement is pretty strict in most areas. Whether it’s parallel parking or pull in parking, people tend to be courteous and follow the laws. In Italy, people park wherever and whenever they want to: On the sidewalks, in the middle of the street, blocking exits, in three parking places or whatever suits them.
  • Staying In Your Lane. Let’s just say that Italians seem to think they are driving a slot car. They have no sense of center and no matter how wide the lane is, they find it impossible to stay in the damn thing. Driving down the middle of lane markers, they seem to be pulled along by a tractor beam.
  • Right of Way. In Italy there is none. He who pushed forward is always the winner.
  • The speed limit. Okay, you’ve got me here. No one pays any mind to a speed limit anywhere in the world!
  • Cell Phones. Ditto!

On a reverse note, driving with your lights on between towns and on highways is required in Italy and most people follow this rule. To the contrary, most US drivers fail to turn their lights on even in a driving rain with zero visibility. In Italy autostrada exits are marked very well with signs above the road and painted on the asphalt. You would have to be blind to miss them, In the United States, freeway exit signs are often missing or confusing at best.

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15 Comments
  1. A fun post.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This made me laugh! It’s a bit tongue in cheek but I’m wholly in agreement. Reminded me a bit of the post I wrote about French drivers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love these words ..make me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Strange for me to think people could possibly drive worse than here in the States. We never got the chance to go to Italy, but in Germany it was about the same as here. Of course, on the autobahn it was a bit faster than here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Whoa! Do they even bother to give driving tests for a license in Italy?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Funny comparison, unfortunately true!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LOL. Sounds like Mexico. Actually if you put an eagle and a snake on a cactus in the white bar, you get a Mexican flag.
    Buona notte.

    Liked by 1 person

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