Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learning the Rules of the Road

One of the many things we have had to learn since coming to Okinawa is how to drive around the island. This was made apparent last Friday night as we were taking a drive around the area (we were checking out the Love Hotels near our house, but that will be another blog). As we made a right turn down a major street, it soon became obvious that we had erred and were about to head into on-coming traffic. Luckily it was far away and no one was behind us. We backed up 10 feet and corrected ourselves. While driver error is something we have to be mindful of at all times, there are some unique things about driving on the island.

1. When the light turns red, the other lights stay red for a few seconds. This means that the lane that just got the red light will still continue to go through the intersection for a while. It means that we now sit tight when our light turns green for a few seconds.
2. Roads are made using coral. When it rains here the roads become pretty slick.
3. Much slower pace on the roads. The maximum speed limit on the island is 60km, a little over 30mph.
4. Mopeds and motorcycles. California motorcycles have nothing on these guys. They like to come up along side you and then pass you no matter what speed you are going. They will also run red lights if they think they can make it.
5. Road layout. Gone are the nice square blocks that we are use to in the states. If you pass your intersection, it might not be easy for you to take the next one and then make one turn to backtrack.
6. Road signs. What are those? There are very few road signs here. When you get directions you have to get a good landmark to judge how close you are to your destination.
7. Okinawan drivers just pulling over to the side of the road and stopping. This will happen without warning and it does not matter if you are on a 4 lane road or a tiny residencial road.

It has been interesting learning to drive here. Something else that we get to see are cars painted in an assortment of different colors. We thought we would share some that you normally would not see in the states.

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