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 Belgium weekender with NOE's

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scott.l.
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PostSubject: Belgium weekender with NOE's   Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:33 pm

In a couple of weeks the Norfolk Overland Explorers will be heading to Brugge for a weekend.
Obviously not a massive expedition from Norfolk, but the idea is to let our novice overlanders experience driving on the 'wrong side', and to see how easy Eurotunnel is.
A few other more experienced overlanders are coming to, so they can sample the Belgium beer and Chocolates!
Hopefully after the weekend others will realise how easy it is to cross over to Europe, and then start looking at getting to further destinations in the future......

Scott.

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PostSubject: Re: Belgium weekender with NOE's   Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:28 am

scott.l. wrote:
the idea is to let our novice overlanders experience driving on the 'wrong side', and to see how easy Eurotunnel is

Better Belgium than France, first-timers tackling the Paris Périphérique or even worse the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe would have 'em quaking in their boots!

Have a butcher's ... www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2RCPpdmSVg


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PostSubject: Re: Belgium weekender with NOE's   Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:12 am

I know you've travelled a lot Scotty, but all the same I suggest you advise them of two very important things:-

1.  Priorite-a-droite‎ (priority from the right): If a road to your right has no STOP or GIVE WAY markings at the junction with your road (it's the same as ours - either a solid or broken white line), the vehicle approaching from the right has priority ... and therefore will drive straight across your bow if they are turning left, or pull out in front of you at low speed if they are turning right. This can happen in villages/towns/cities at low speed, or much faster on country roads.

Because of so many accidents in the past, especially involving tourists, nowadays the French authorities have almost entirely ditched Priorite-a-droite‎ in the countryside on main roads (Nationals), but it still applies a lot on B roads and in built up areas. Brits are caught out by this all the time, often leading to road rage as the French know they are right so will make a mountain out of a molehill to make their point. Understandable I suppose, but 9 times out of 10 it leaves British drivers wondering why? Now you know!

BTW, I realise you'll only be in France for five seconds, but even in Calais there's one particular junction which constantly catches out the unwary. It's practically opposite the railway station, but the precise location isn't the point. The accidents at this black spot are always low speed collisions, more of a tap or a coming-together really, but it does emphasise what I'm on bleating on about. Every junction in town can spoil your day, so beware.

2.  As an example - after having lunch, so often British drivers will drive out of a car park and turn left or right on the wrong side of the road! It happens all the time, it's happened to me and several people I know. It's human nature. We're so used to our way of driving, we simply forget. Once out of the car park however (assuming you are on the correct side of course!!!) you can drive all day long with no problems at all, it is simply that first turn which can catch you out.

Interestingly, just the other day it happened the other way around to my German friend Ralf while driving in Coventry - he drove on the wrong side here! Exactly the same thing occurred. Although he has been driving in this country for the past couple of years, so should be used to driving on the left, he pulled out of a company car park on a trading estate, turned left and promptly drove straight across to the other side of the road, so suddenly we were facing oncoming traffic! Actually it was fine as the "oncoming traffic" was a car some distance away, but if it had been a truck even travelling at low speed, it would have been a 'brown trouser' moment!

So beware, 99% of the time Continental driving is fine, but you can never really drop your concentration like you can here - they do after all drive on the 'wrong side of the road'. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Belgium weekender with NOE's   Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:02 pm

Thanks Tom all valid points!
I was lucky enough to be given driving orientation by one of my old companies many years ago when I was working in Europe. However I have also had a few 'brown trouser' moments when I have let my concentration lapse. I am aware of that rule to the right, and have made everyone in the group aware of it to.
What NOE's have done is actually formally 'risk assess' the weekend. We started this several months ago and many good points were raised and mitigation measures put in place.
Some who questioned the need to 'risk assess' a weekend to Belgium suddenly realised that after thinking about it, there were some risks that they had not thought about.
NOE's will now get together as a group and risk assess every trip we do, so the next one we will look at is Scotland.
As mentioned the idea of the weekend is to let those who have not driven abroad get experience, but they have started gaining knowledge already as have had to check out things like - what you have to carry in your vehicle by law, ensuring European breakdown cover is in place, what the yellow diamond sign means on the roads, etc etc etc.......
We will be travelling in convoy with communications in each vehicle, and will position people not familiar with driving overseas in the middle of the convoy, so will make things a bit easier to start with as they just need to follow the one in front. Very Happy

Some people are happy just to throw themselves into unfamiliar situations, whereas others prefer a little guidance, so Im hoping after this weekend those who wanted some guidance will then feel happier to step out on their own in the future... cheers1


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PostSubject: Re: Belgium weekender with NOE's   Thu May 14, 2015 6:41 pm

Happy to say it was an excellent weekend..!! Comments were -

''Eurotunnel is easy!''......
''Driving on 'wrong side' is not that bad''........
''Im certianly going to explore more of Europe now''......

Mission accomplished..... Very Happy

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