Monday, March 17, 2008

Transitions 4

The traffic lights here are interesting. At first I felt like they were ,"duh lights" (you know, duh, do we need this much information) and this is why:

When you approach an intersection and the light is green you of course travel through, but as soon as the green light begins to turn into what we call a "stale green" light (one that has been green for some time) the yellow light comes on and the green and yellow light blink 3 times before changing to red as a warning that the green light will soon change to red, so prepare to stop. Many people stop when the light begins blinking and don't try to hurry through as most of us would (and I sometimes do myself). For those who are waiting at the red light, there is also the yellow light that appears with red and flashes 3 times to let the waiters know that soon it will turn green so they should prepare to go. We have observed many people driving through the intersection as soon as the blinking of red and yellow begin, but have found out it is not legal to do so. When I first observed this way of the traffic light, I scoffed at how "caudling" it was," Do we really need to know just when the light is going to change, my goodness." But now that I have been driving here for some time, I have really come to appreciate that the lights prepare you well for when they will change and there is no guess work at all involved in the process. At first I thought,"They would do well to adopt the American way of doing it!", but now I am thinking quite the opposite. It seems like the way Lithuanians do it is sensible and wish America would check it out:)

The rules and regulations of the road have also been very interesting and fun to learn. There are not many speed signs posted so I am often at the mercy of other drivers for what the correct speed limit is. Which is scary because they are all going different speeds. So it is not a very good beromitor for me.

I have found out many new and interesting things as I have driven with Lithuanian drivers. I always use driving people around as a time to ask questions about driving laws. I have found that anytime you are on a road driving through a village (town) the speed limit is always 50 kilometers (like 30 mph, ugh). There are no consitent posted speed limits, this is just something you 'know'. When you leave a village there will be a sign with the village name on it and a slash mark through it indicating you are leaving this village and if you are not entering another one right away then you can go 90 to 100 Kilometers. Which sounds fast, but is still only around 50 mph. You just have to relax and know you will get there eventually.

One of the funniest and most rediculous things I have encountered while driving as far as speed limits go is on our way back home from Kliapeda. There is a small stretch, not even a kilometer (which is half a mile) where you can go from 60 to 80 and the right back to 60 again. I laugh every time we pass it, but I make sure to speed up to get my 80 in:)

Another interesting difference here is the permenate metal green arrow attached to stop lights indicating that you can turn right at all times. I really like this one! Plus , we have found that the hazard lights here don't mean there is a broken down car, but that the car in question isn't parked and planning to stay for long so don't get inpatient with where they are parked (which half the time is in the middle of the road blocking traffic), and that brings us to the next topic of driving......

Cars stopped in the middle of the road to drop off a passenger or pick one up is a really irritating habit we see quite frequently here. This seems to be a convenience of the driver with no consideration to anyone else. When someone wants to be dropped off, you just pull over randomly to drop them off and make everyone else wait. It is really a road hazard and often causes some big traffic jams, but again we have to take a deep breath and not get too upset about it since it is happening all the time, all over town and is quite common.

And finally our favorite! You pretty much can park anywhere and every which way. We spend so much time in California lining our cars up just so and keeping them off the curbs. Back and forth, back and forth to get it into the parking spot nice and straight. Here, you just line your car up however the person before you has parked. If the lines are straight and you are the first one there and you choose to park diagnal, then that is the way the parking will go. If your car is too big and the street is narrow, you just pop a set of your wheels up on the curbside. We always get a big laugh out of the parking lots outside the malls around here. It just looks like sheer K-oss!

One of the things we have learned since being here is that the common tragedy that kills more missionaries all over the world is car accidents. So of course we buckle up when we drive and are always driving defensively. Most people in this country still do not see the importance of seat belts, so we are a bit strange to a lot of people around here:)

We could go on and on about the strange driving habits of this country, but we will let it rest with: Don't ever assume that the oncoming car that is passing another is going to get over in time to miss hitting you....

1 comment:

dmametfan said...

AH! I found you guys! I was just wondering what was up with all of you, and decided to rack you down. Oh, BTW, this is Gavin Morris from PFB. I'd love to hear from you guys. I read all your blogs. Send me an email sometime. Here's my address: You can also still get ahold of me on myspace at It was really cool seeing all the pictures of you guys. I hope everything is going well, and hope to hear from you soon.