31 May 2007

Which Gene Dominates?

When it comes to cleanliness, the Swiss genes win. Public restrooms are much, much cleaner on the Swiss side than the French side. And we are still laughing about the small plaque in the hotel bathroom that stated they use "Swiss Clean" products.

But when it comes to driving, the French genes dominate all the way.

The cars would generally drive at least 20 kph over the speed limit on the highway. But periodically you would see everyone brake for no apparent reason and go exactly the speed limit. We theorized the drivers had memorized the location of the cameras. Around Zürich, most everyone drives exactly the speed limit regardless of where the cameras may be.

And when we would stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, which would be unthinkable to fail to do in the German-speaking area, two things would usually happen. First, we would be nearly rear-ended by the car tailgating us who didn't expect us to actually stop for a pedestrian. And then the pedestrian would look at us in shock before quickly waving and darting across the intersection.

There are likely many more differences between the French-speaking and German-speaking Swiss, but those were the most obvious to the casual observer.

4 comments:

Un-Swiss Miss said...

Haha! French drivers are the *worst.* Since you told me about nearly being run over by one in a (Swiss) crosswalk, I do a quick license plate check before stepping into the street. And you're right! They don't stop. They're also cranky about sharing the road with bicycles, which I find very ironic.

But I have to respectfully disagree about the Swiss and speeding. I'm meticulous about observing the speed limit here, but 80% of cars end up passing me.

Global Librarian said...

How many have Swiss license plates? And how many are the French and Germans just passing through?

And are they doing the typical 5 km or so over the limit? Or are they 20 km or more?

Kirk said...

I have a much greater appreciation for the Swiss consistency since being back here. I've realized since coming back that it's much more difficult to merge into traffic because even though the speed limit may be 45mph, you can't tell if they're driving 35mph or 65mph. In Switzerland you just *knew* that oncoming traffic was going the speed limit.

I also miss slow drivers actually driving in the right lane, unlike here where people feel that if the speed limit is 55mph then it's their God-given right to drive 55mph in the left lanes.

The speed limit could definitely be a bit higher (or the Swiss less obedient) on the motorways, though...

Expat Traveler said...

I totally agree with Kirk! And people here can't drive worth beans!

But I think this really just depends on which village/town you are in..

Speaking wise, more Swiss Germans greet you compared to French speaking Swiss...