I spent the last 2 weeks driving from Seattle to LA. Wind, rain, snow, LA traffic, Oregon wilderness, 4 way stops (and three roundabouts!?) - I saw it all and absolutely LOVED it.

Illustration for article titled Why driving in the US is better than at home (Australia)

(The rental. Truckee, CA)

1: Speed Limits

More like - speed limits? Specifically highway limits. I am loath to creep more than 3km/h above the speed limit on freeways here in Victoria for fear of a $186 fine and 3 demerit points. What a joy it was to cruise along in the rental Dodge Grand Caravan at 75mph in a 65 zone (and 80 in 70)- I was overtaking a healthy amount of cars and was being overtaken myself, but 75 felt just right.


Felt bizarre to drive past a cop car 10mph over the limit and not immediately be followed. (happened a handful of times) Also, your lack of speed cameras is magical! I saw one red light camera in LA and that was it for the entire 1600 mile trip. Nirvana.

2: 4-way-stops

I still don't understand why you just don't have roundabouts but the 4 way stop made sense pretty quick. I gathered it was first come first serve so that's what I did. It works. It's simple... Still, I love a good roundabout.


3: Turn right on red

This is massive. Why make a car wait at traffic light to turn right when there's no traffic coming from the left? IT WORKS. Less stop start, potentially smoother traffic flow, better fuel economy etc etc. It was mighty enjoyable freaking out my passengers with the first few right on reds but man, such a good rule.


Canberra and some intersections in Sydney allow you to turn left on red (our equivalent, opposite side of the road remember) but only when signed - It would work well in Melbourne but I think there'd just be too much re-education to make it work... And the red light cameras would have to go.

4: Snow driving

I've done a lot of snow driving here in the Australian mountains so felt comfortable. My passengers did not (I told them to shut up and deal with it). Around Crater Lake and Tahoe we saw several fresh compacted inches on the ground. The Dodge had all seasons with surprisingly good tread depth on the front - it went so much better than expected.


My comment is more around doing 50mph between Truckee and Tahoe on the main road. Heavy traffic, heavy snowfall, high winds - yet nothing went wrong. Fellow drivers kept their distance, everyone cruised along sensibly - drove to the conditions perfectly.

It was such a contrast to driving in the mountains here. You can pick the people who put too much confidence in their AWD, who think because there's snow on the road they need to do 10kmh and those that think because there's snow on the road their summer tyres (which every Australian car has) will still work the same.


The weather was shit but the drive was relaxing. Loved it.

5: Highway One


6: The Dodge

I've never driven a minivan before. Man this car was excellent! 7 adults, a metric f tonne of luggage. Cruise control was faultless, ridiculous amount of luggage space (that underfloor area? Brilliant!)


It was filthy by the end, did about 23mpg and didn't miss a beat. Bloody comfortable driving position as well. Nice one Dodge.

7: General broadcast to California drivers


Yep, loved it. 9/10, would do again. Just get more roundabouts.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter