October 01, 1996

Care for a drive?

With its vast expanses, natural beauty and low population density, Russia may seem at first sight, like America, made for driving. But in reality, poor roadside facilities, bizarre traffic rules, unreliable gas supplies and legendary bad roads can conspire to turn unsuspecting Westerners’ driving experiences into a living nightmare.

Added to that, city driving, especially in Moscow, can be a savage and chaotic free-for-all, spiced by arbitrary checks by GAI (traffic police). The phenomenal increase in car ownership in the capital in recent years, and the failure of the city government to address both logistical and environmental problems, tends to make Moscow’s streets at peak times a stinking, angry mess.

However much a mess there is, though, people still have to get around in it. Overcrowded public transport and the chaos that still reigns in the ‘taxi’ business, as long as they last, will ensure that the option of car rental continues to be more attractive here than in many parts of the world.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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