Monday, December 17, 2007

Driving in the U.S.

The United States of America is one of the most car-centric countries that I have been to or I'd say the most car-centric. In the past four years that I have been able to travel internationally into Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the US, it is only here in the land of Uncle Sam where a car is a necessity to travel from one place to another.

In Vietnam, Malaysia, and China, taxi cabs are easy means of transport. In Singapore, the public transport system is too organized that it is easy to hop from a bus and MRT to get from one place to another. But in the US, it would be a pain if one doesn't have a car.

In my past two business travels to Texas, my company had to provide us car rentals for us to drive ourselves from the hotel to office. Buses is not a common thing to see around. On my first vacation visit in California, we depended on car rentals or personal cars to get around.

The good thing about having a car in the US is driving. Driving in the US is very much different to the normal driving that I experience in the Philippines. In the US, traffic rules are strictly implemented and many street crossings are being watched by traffic cameras. Cars maintain their own lane and they follow proper right of way.

The first time I've experienced driving in the US is during my second visit to Austin. We rented a car from Hertz and they lent me a Mazda 6. While on my California visit, we had to rent a car from Avis and they lent us a Chevrolet Impala. Most cars in the US are automatic transmission.

Having automatic cars compared to manual transmission, driving is less challenging as one would not need to think of using the clutch to change gears. Also cars are usually power steering.

US roads are generally neatly paved and wide making driving less straineous. In Texas, roads and highways are very wide that traffic is not usually heavy. In California, traffic is a bit heavier. But anyways, with the US freeway system, one can get from one city to another in a quicker way. US Freeways allow an average of 65 miles per hour speed while streets generally have a 45 miles per hour limit. Compared to the Philipines where traffic is heavier and roads are narrower, driving here is a lot easier.

One would easily feel the need for speed while driving here specially while on freeways. With the smooth roads there are less noise produced by cars. And with all cars speeding on the highways, one would usually not realize that you are driving very fast already at 70mph or more. In the Philippines, driving at 90kph is already fast. And a 20mile destination can be reached in 20 minutes in the US unlike back home that takes about 2 hours.

Boy, I hope the Philippines also build freeways for quicker travel.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I agree with your take on driving in the US. I also think that it is terrible that a car is needed to travel in the states. It really limits travel from lower income folks which leads to slower development on that income class. To bad.

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