Driving in Moscow… with Bart

Driving in Moscow… with Bart

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Blogger ‘English Man In Moscow’ takes to the Moscow city roads with the invaluable help of Bart Simpson.

If you are thinking of driving in Moscow, in my experience, it’s not as scary as people would have us all believe. The roads are wide, often with six lanes in each direction. The lanes are not always clearly marked on the road, so when it’s dark, it can be hard to see where you should be positioned on the road. I have not seen many drivers showing manners. Drivers don't seem to thank each other, if a car lets another car in front of them, it’s a shock! but a nice shock.

Drivers don't seem to show patience or thought for others. Often, other drivers will not let you into the road in front of them, like all drivers the world over, they become cocooned within the womb of their car, defending their road space to the death. You have to show confidence and cheek and just force you way onto a road. Drivers will often just pull out in front of you without any signal or indicator, which is highly annoying. The other day, I saw one car reversing down the road at very high speed, I had to swerve out the way to avoid hitting him. The roads do get dirty in the winter if there is snow and your windscreen will need cleaning so make sure you have antifreeze.

If you are linguistically challenged like me, and don't speak Russian, it will be difficult to find your way around the city as you will not be able to read the road signs and even if you could read the signs there are not always signs to tell you the direction. I resolved this problem by buying satellite navigation (Tom Tom). I bought it on my last trip out of Russia. It comes with a Latin keyboard, so you can just enter in the destination in Latin rather than in Russian Cyrillic. I changed the voice on my Tom Tom as she was a bit bossy (Kate).

I went to the Tom Tom website and downloaded a new voice. I now have Bart Simpson telling me which direction to go in when I drive in Moscow. It’s really funny and rather surreal to hear an American cartoon character directing you. The navigation system takes you almost to the door of your destination. You can then just focus on the road and you will feel more relaxed when driving in Moscow. Bart will just tell you which way to go and get you there without too many problems. I have not yet driven outside Moscow. I only use my car for short shopping trips and never drive during the week. The traffic is too bad here in the week and takes hours to travel a few kilometres.

My advice when driving in Moscow is be focused and confident –  this will help you to avoid any accidents and always carry your car papers and passport with you. I have never been stopped by the police so I have been rather lucky. Of course, experience differs, but generally if you are sensible and have a bit of luck you will be safe driving here. I think driving in Moscow is no more dangerous than driving in any big city, the only difference here is that the Russian police may hassle you to extract money from you for some small, real or imagined driving offense.

One last bit of advice, don't be aggressive and try not to use your horn/klaxon, if other drivers cut you up, take a deep breath and let it go, life is too short. You never know who is behind the wheel. Be safe and happy driving.

Blog: English Man In Moscow J.M.

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