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Thread: Driving on the Left

  1. #1
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    Default Driving on the Left

    Having never driven in a country where the car is on the left-hand side of the road I was just curious as to how long it took for people to become accustomed to this. Would anyone care to share their experiences and/or advice?

    Vann

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    I'm from the UK, where we drive on the left, and have necessarily for all my driving life driven on the right in other European countries. It's always going to feel odd at first, and even when you're just about used to it, you can get caught out and go back to your old driving habits when you're tired or startled or distracted, so don't relax too soon. Think about it before you get to the country, planning how to travel through different types of junction correctly. There are some clips of TV programmes where there is footage of riding along with the traffic police (e.g. https://www.google.co.uk/#q=youtube+motorway+patrol+nz), so you can get a driver's eye view of the road. Times you need to take particular care: when you have stopped for a break and pull out again, when you pull out of a filling station, at junctions or roundabouts (make sure you're heading for the LEFT side of the road you turn into), and if an emergency vehicle is trying to get through on a multi-lane road, that you pull over to the LEFT to clear their way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    An easier thought to remember (and relatively simple). Each time you hop in the car so that you don't end up driving on the wrong side of the road do this; the steering wheel of the side where you sit ALWAYS goes to the middle of the road. It's that simple. No matter if you're in America or Japan, the position where you sit in the car (behind the steering wheel) you will end up on the right side of the road as long as you think where the steering wheel should be. At any time you are confused, just think "I should be sitting closer to the middle of the road".

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    I had the most trouble with turning on the wipers when preparing to make a turn

    Other trouble areas would be turning out of side roads (as JandM said) and navigating areas without lines like the petrol station parking lot. Really it starts to feel normal quickly (within an hour I'd say) but you have to be careful that doesn't make you over confident. It felt a bit like first driving as a teenager! You might focus so much on keeping left that you forget basic things. Take your time driving around a quiet area at a quiet time of day to get a feel for it if you are uneasy.

    Keep calm, don't be too nervous, and don't be too cocky either

  5. #5
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    Takapuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by deanied View Post
    I had the most trouble with turning on the wipers when preparing to make a turn
    This has nothing to do with side of the road, but car manufacturer.

  6. #6
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    I did a bit of a mental head slap when I read JandM's advice about pulling off to the left for emergency vehicles. I knew after reading that that I would have had an issue, had I encountered the situation without this advice - my instinct would have been to pull off to the right.

    Vann

  7. #7
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    I've seen tourists do it! - you can imagine how popular they are with the police officers riding on blue lights and sirens when they stop dead in the motorway fast lane.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Super_BQ View Post
    Each time you hop in the car so that you don't end up driving on the wrong side of the road do this; the steering wheel of the side where you sit ALWAYS goes to the middle of the road. It's that simple.
    This only works if you are driving a car that matches the country, ie. right-hand drive car in a country that drives on the left and vice versa.

    Simpler still to stick a note on the dashboard in front of the driver "keep left" for the first few months.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Mo View Post
    This has nothing to do with side of the road, but car manufacturer.
    Ah maybe so. They seem to have been reversed in all the cars I have driven. Think they have all been Toyotas if that makes a difference!

  10. #10
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    Feb 2008
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    Yes, it varies with the manufacturer. I remember once picking up a loan car when having to leave my own for some work to be done, on my way to work. The loan car was a different make from mine, and even the symbols on the control buttons weren't the same, never mind being where I'd have expected them to be. And the car had been started from cold, on a misty frosty morning, which then turned to heavy rain, so I needed to remember where to find the demister, and heater, and wipers, while I fought my way through rush-hour traffic across the middle of town.

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