Have you ever surfed through YouTube videos and watch how people drive in Russia? And some questions randomly pop out of your mind: Are Russian drivers sane? Do they still care for their lives? What is going on there?
There are a lot of serious problems other than crazy drivers that need a fix, but Russian drivers are a whole different level. Let us take Japan as an example. Japan is one of most well-developed countries in the world. It has serious problem like earthquake and tsunami, but it does not have crazy drivers. It is all because Japan has good roads, good traffic rules, and good policemen that are not corrupted. Russia may be moving to that direction, too, now, but it is still a long way to go.
Listed below are 6 facts you need to know about Russian drivers. These facts may be helpful for you, especially if you are planning to stay for a while in Russia. So, keep on reading.
1. Most of Them Buy Driver’s Licenses
A lot of drivers in Russia would rather buy driver’s license than pass the driving test legally. It is a typical thing to pay a police officer to get your driver’s license done, sometimes it can even be considered as normal. So, it is not surprising to find that half of Russian drivers are not even competent.
According to the insiders, the test for a driving license is a sick joke. This is not applied to all of police officers in Russia, but in most cases, the police officer is not really interested in whether or not you can drive. They are more interested in the amount of money you are willing to pay. So, they will make sure that you will not pass the test until you pay them. Such attempt is usually accompanied with additional rule which does not make sense, or even sabotage.
2. Very Aggressive
There is no Russian driver who drives defensively, and almost everyone is convinced that if there is an accident, it is always the fault of the other party. They often take their aggressiveness to the next level. Do not be surprised if at the school crossings, you find cars plough straight through groups of students, or if in the merge lanes, you see every car insists on being first. They just want to win. Also, Russia has been known with its machismo culture, so expect some conflicts between drivers where one driver will make fun of other drivers for not being aggressive enough.
3. They Do Not Believe in Seat Belts
Russian drivers do not believe in seat belts. They feel that seat belts are uncomfortable. Also, there is an urban legend about a case when someone’s life was saved only because they were not buckled up and when the accident happened, they were thrown out of the window and had only a couple of bruises.
However, since Russian people are highly superstitious, they do believe in lucky charm. A lot of Russian drivers put tiny icons or glue them to the car panel. They believe those icons will protect them from bad luck. If the driver is a religious person, they usually decorate their car with cross, or a string of beads for Muslim.
4. Dash Cams, Everyone?
Why do Russian drivers set up a dash cam? The main reason is actually to avoid any misinterpretation of events should they happen. With a dash cam installed, everything (accidents, traffic jam, et cetera) that happens in front of the car will be on the record. It becomes hard evidence that is essential for the police in case there are some crooks trying to endanger the driver’s life. It is very helpful, especially if there are no witnesses when the event happens.
For example, hit and run tragedies are very common and insurance companies usually deny claims telling it is probably a scam. In that kind of situation, dash cam footage is the only real way to give substance to your claims in the court of law.
5. They Tend to Violate the Road Rules
It may sound stereotypical, but Russian drivers are not really big into disciplinary. When there is the stop sign for the walkers, they do not stop. When they drive too fast, either in the city area or during winter, they do not bother to slow down at the intersection. Some Russian drivers even make an abrupt turn when clearly they are not in the right lane; again they do not bother to use the turn signals.
While driving in Russia, do not be surprised if Russian drivers will cut you off midway. You can give them the opportunity or refuse to do so, either way, it does not matter. They will not be upset if you refuse to give them the opportunity. However, if you do let them through, they will say thank you, usually through a sign of couple blinks of the emergency lights.
6. They Bribe!
Relating to the previous point, if they drive like a total idiot and get pulled over by traffic police officer, they can always bribe their ways out of being punished. That is why there is basically no fear of punishment. They think they can behave at the wheel like they do with no liability. There are also a group of Russian drivers who have been sent a fine for road rules violation, have never paid it, but still got to get away with it. So, again, they can act without fear of punishment.
In conclusion, they simply put their interests above the law. Violating little things here and there is pretty common in Russia. Almost everyone did it. So, among those 6 facts you need to know about Russian drivers, which one got you taken a back the most?