Whilst on holiday in Italy, some opt to rent a car and motor through the country, exploring all it has to offer. Since this usually requires an international driver’s license or some other special permission, public transport or tour busses are usually the way to go when touring with a large group. While the bus might be a more practical option, it is not the most serene.
On a recent high school tour through Italy, bus trips were plentiful and an EF Tour guide gave some firsthand insight to some of the regulations garnering automobile transport in Italy. Whether by bus or automobile, before one takes to the Italian roads there are a few things to be aware of.
While Paris has the highest accident rate in the world, according to Roman tour guide, Matteo,but Italy has the worst drivers in the world. Though law makers have attempted to curb speeding, the system is hardly efficient.
For example, as you pass from the country roads into the outskirts of Florence, there is a “speed box” that clocks the speed of cars as they pass along the road. The box takes a picture of the car and license plate and if one is caught traveling down that road faster than 28 mph, a ticket is mailed to the driver’s house about 3 to 4 months after the date of the offense. If one doubts that they are indeed the offender, they can make an appointment with the police station to obtain the photo of their license plate and speeding car.
Because of this rather complicated system people usually opt to pay the fine since most don’t remember what road they passed through several months prior. This procedure earns the Italian government sizable revenue but the number of offenders has not decreased.
Italy is also making an attempt to curb air pollution given off from automobiles therefore busses are only allowed to drive a limited amount of hours per day. Each bus is equipped with a disk that records information for the police to check at will. At any point in time, a bus can be pulled over, even if the bus was not breaking a law. Cops check the disk to see if the bus has gone above 62 mph at any time on their day’s journey, or if the busses have been driving too many hours that day. The disks don’t clock actual mileage though, they clock the time the bus has been running, so if a bus is stuck in traffic the time spent unmoving is counted against the driver’s time.
Engines on tour busses must be turned off while waiting to pick up passengers otherwise they will accumulate too much time on their disk. While this sounds like a great way to cut auto emissions, tour groups looking to escape the 100 degree heat after a summer walk through Pompeii, step foot on a steamy bus that can not be turned on until all passengers are fully loaded an accounted for. An attempt to purify the air makes for unhappy bus drivers and visitors.
Weekend drivers can take pleasure in knowing that their trips won’t be spoiled by trucking accidents. In Italy, as trucks are only allowed to drive on roads Monday through Friday. This has slightly improved road conditions in that traffic is somewhat reduced on weekends. However, since many opt to take small road trips on the weekends, one now has to battle the oodles of other drivers that have the same idea as they had therefore the traffic is still held up, but for different reasons.
Before hitting the open roads of Italy one must carefully plan their means of transport. Renting a car is often an appealing option, though be sure you are aware of all the rules and permissions needed. Bus transport is an economic option as well, though being packed on a bus in 100 plus degree heat in the summer is about as enjoyable as it sounds. And while many tourists might not be used to the rules garnering roadway travel, the Italian government is taking steps to ensure the safety of the roads as well as the cleanliness of the environment, even if it seems to hinder the driving experience.