The web is full of horror clips of Russian traffic incidents – lorry rollovers, appalling roads, careering speedsters, bodies flying, grim statistics – so we arrived with trepidation. China had been a breeze with European-standard highways, if somewhat inexperienced drivers in new powerful cars. We enjoyed driving there.
So here, with 2 days driving to go, is what we have found in Russia. Yes there are fender bender accidents. We have seen several with forlorn drivers and weary police exchanging details. The Lada driver wondering where he will get parts for repairs, the BMW driver anxiously checking her insurance.
Police are very visible on highways. There are random checks, and not many days go by without us being pulled over. The standard routine is a stern but curious approach, a lot of questioning in Russian to which we usually answer “Australia” and sometimes pull out car documents or offer licenses to further puzzlement. Then the head starts to shake, the palms go up, and we are waved on with a laugh and a handshake, but not before his mate arrives and they snap each other next to the cars. Next day it’s the same. We’ve never detected any attempt to extract a bribe.