Here in sunny old WA they have a zero tolerance for both speeding and drink driving. Apparently some of the hoons on the roads haven’t yet been told about this, but for everyone else it’s pretty common knowledge.
When used to nipping down the M4 at 110mph and still have some w****r in a BMW overtake you on the outside lane, when you first arrive in Perth, you will need to keep your foot off the accelerator and and one eye focused on the speedometer at all times.
Speed limits here can seem incredibly slow, particularly when you are late for work, stuck in school run traffic or missing your favourite TV show. When the roads are twice as wide and devoid of any other motorists, it’s even more frustrating. Top speeds on the freeway are set at 100kph. And yes, that would be kilometres and not miles per hour. For those, who like me never mastered beyond their 5 times table, that is only 62mph. Most suburban roads are set at 50kph (31mph) and around “School Zones” at drop off and pick up times it goes down to 40kph (23mph). I personally didn’t know that it was possible to go that slow without actually reversing, but there you go, I’ve tried it and it can be done.
After you’ve been here a while you do stop worrying quite so much about speeding, though perhaps those 2 tickets that I have already accumulated are testament to why that’s probably not wise. Unlike the UK, where by law they have to put out those ever so helpful warning signs before they catch you, here, the police just seem to loiter behind bushes on their ‘I have a shiny blue badge’ power trip with their hand held zappers in tow.
The other thing to be wary of when hitting the road are the infamous Booze Buses. Now here’s a sight to make your heart sink down to the clutch and your hives start breaking out, and that’s just when you’re stone cold sober. A single policeman pulling your car over to the side of the road can make you feel as guilty as sin, the sight of 20 cars laying in wait is enough to make even a tee total nun reach for her rosary.
These booze buses can be laid on for your entertainment anywhere and at any time, be it 7pm on a Monday night or 9am on a Sunday morning. Red and blue flashing lights will bring you round from your driving induced stupor (the one where you can travel for an hour and still not recall any part of the journey). The outside lane will be cordoned off and every car will be squeezed through the inside lane and into the holding zone. As you puff into their magic little ‘DRUNK as a skunk / Has no social life SOBER’ box, you will try and recall every drop of alcohol that has touched your lips in the past week, while desperately trying to look both nonchalant and innocent. If you’re unlucky enough to be so much as 0.05 over the limit you will be kept there and retested later. The real alcoho’s will be taken onto the bus to wait it out. Whether they have comfy seats and Fox Tel on board I neither know or particularly wish to find out.
Most people do tend to drink at home here, as pubs don’t outnumber houses, as they do in some parts of the UK. But if you’re out and about, keep an ear open for speed camera sitings on the radio, or to be safer still, it’s probably better to just drive like a sloth and give up your Becks and Bacardi Breezers all together…