Observing vehicles and the driving behaviour of car owners in Romania is quite fascinating. Many European countries tend to have chaotic drivers, and here is no different. With the addition of trams, the roads here in Oradea can sometimes be quite intimidating. Trams don’t necessarily have a separate ‘lane’ – more often than not, cars can be seen driving in front of, behind and generally meandering between trams.
Road rage seems a little more prevalent here than in England – but it tends to come about for trivial reasons. On more than one occasion I have witnessed police being called to ‘incidents’ involving angry drivers in a dispute over a parking space outside of small roadside supermarkets. It is somewhat amusing to witness – if only to learn some Romanian profanity (which is also very different and sometimes almost nonsensical!)
Some general facts:
- As in England…the use of mobile phones in cars is prohibited – but contrary to England, many people here do not adhere to this rule.
- In Romania it is compulsory to use your headlights during the day on major roads and outside of built up areas.
- Driving tests are conducted by the police! You also have to perform all manoeuvres during the test.
- For the first year after passing, you must display a sign in the back window of your car that shows a black exclamation mark against a yellow background.
Car registration numbers are created using a slightly different system – the first two letters are the initials of the county where the car originated from. For example all cars originating from Bihor county, start with BH. I found it so strange when I suddenly noticed almost every car in Oradea beginning with BH.
In England things are quite strict when it comes to tickets on public transport. The ticket you buy for a bus journey must be used within the same day. The date is printed on your ticket when you buy it, and the bus driver always checks the tickets as you enter onto the bus – meaning there is little to no chance of you being able to cheat the bus system. If you purchase a return ticket, and for some reason don’t use the return journey – your return is now useless. You cannot save it and use it for the next day, which, regarding the price of UK bus tickets, is absurd!
In Romania, things are different. When you buy a tram or bus ticket, it does not expire until after you have used it – you can buy one tomorrow and keep it in your wallet for 6 months and it will still be valid when you need it. I think this system is much better, it is very convenient. The ticket has 2 ends – each end is worth 1 journey. The ticket checking system is also quite different. You are responsible for ‘punching’ your own ticket using the little orange machine on the tram – whether or not it will be checked by a ticket inspector is a complete gamble. Being found without a ticket, however, results in large fines.
Something strange that I have noticed about the trams here in Oradea is the difference in ‘punching’ quality between the old and new style trams. You would expect that the newer and more modern trams would have much better ‘punching’ machines…but it is completely the opposite way around. The new trams have really useless machines that either only punch half of the date and time stamp onto the ticket, or print it so faintly that it may as well not be there. The old tram punchers are much better and almost always print the stamp perfectly!