No, Left-Hand-Side Driving on Foreign Roads isn't Scary…
“I don't scare easily, but nothing puts the worry of God in me like left-hand-side driving on foreign roads” is what Christopher Elliott wrote in the following paragraphs for Travelers United, which is an advocacy membership organization that represents all travelers. “On a current trip to Bermuda, while I was taking a pre-dawn walk along a winding road, I nearly collided with a swarm of scooters. Works out I was facing the wrong direction. Working in london, despite signs on the pavement warning tourists and absent-minded pedestrians to 'look right,' I was almost go beyond with a bus. I've never attempted to rent a car there. I don't dare.”
No, Left-Hand-Side Driving on Foreign Roads isn't Scary…
As a citizen from the Netherlands, I'm accustomed to driving on the right side from the road-
-so does that mean that those who drive around the left side of the road drive on the wrong side from the road? Absolutely not – but that can cause potential discomfort to a person who may never have driven on the opposite side of the road to what he or she is used to in his or her native country.
I won't ever your investment anticipation and trepidation of driving around the left side from the road the very first time: I was traveling as a passenger in the industry class cabin seated upstairs on a Boeing 747-400 aircraft operated by Qantas Airways; and during the flight which lasted for approximately 14 hours – interrupted with a nap which lasted Half an hour at the most; and that is not counting no sleep on two previous flights – I frankly was quite nervous about driving on the left side from the road.
Fortunately, I am familiar with driving a vehicle with manual transmission; however i am not left-handed. How will I do shifting with my left-hand? Is all things in reverse as to the I am accustomed – the gears, the pedals, the sunshine and windshield wiper control stalks?
Despite the truth that approximately 90 % of the total road distance in the world carries traffic on the right side of the road, I have since driven in at least eleven countries where driving around the left side from the road is compulsory; and I have never tried any sort of accident – unless you count that stupid pothole I encountered on highway R76 in South Africa on my way to Lesotho.
Every time I return to the Netherlands after visiting a country where people drive around the left side of the road, I'm always asked the way i get it done. It is easy, really – however i thought I'd relay my observations and experiences to you if you have had little to no experience driving on the opposite side of the road inside a different country.
Count on Worries Designed with a Manual Transmission
With the lone exceptions of inside the Netherlands and Oman, every car I've ever rented was designed with a manual transmission; so be prepared to drive using a stick shift when renting a car internationally. It just so happens that I prefer driving a vehicle with a stick shift; so I have never thought to inquire if I could rent a car by having an automatic transmission instead – but you probably could do so if you're so inclined. You might pay more for a vehicle equipped with a stick shift, however.
Everything IS Opposite – Except-
When you get right into a car inside a country where you are supposed to drive along the side of the street opposite of what you're used to driving in your home country, the obvious observation for you will be that the steering wheel is around the “wrong” side from the car – especially when you attempt to enter the car on a single side as you typically would in the country where you are based.
The stick shift will indeed be in the middle of the vehicle between the front seats for that driver and also the passenger. The good thing is that the shifting works the identical in cars in which the steering wheel is around the left in addition to cars where the controls is around the right – but that is also the not so good news. Shifting into first gear will be around the upper left of the gearbox; but when you are accustomed to shifting to first gear being nearest you whilst in the driver's seat on the left side from the car using your right-hand, you will have to get used to shifting to first gear being farthest away from you whilst in the driver's seat around the right side of the car using your left-hand. Again, don't fear – it is not that hard to do; but it will feel strange at first.
The pedals are identical, no matter which side from the road you drive: the clutch pedal is around the left; the brake pedal is in the middle; and also the acceleration pedal to give gas to the car is around the right. Phew. That is a relief.
What accustomed to befuddle me probably the most, however, would be the stalks which control the lights and switch signals and windshield wipers, as they are around the opposite sides from the steering wheel. I switch on the lights or make use of the turn signals and the windshield wipers were activated. I switch on the windshield wipers and also the lights or turn signals continued. A whole lot worse is that once I became accustomed to where the controls were located, I initially went through exactly the same scenario after i returned the place to find use my vehicle. That does not happen to me anymore; but that needs to be the scariest thing that could occur to me – or to you.
The Hardest Time Driving around the Opposite Side of the Road Can Be-
-when you're in a congested area with many different traffic and you are turning onto another street while manually shifting somewhere where individuals seem to drive inside a crazy and aggressive manner, as it can have a tendency to potentially allow you to be nervous. You might start to overthink what you need to do, as you need to concentrate on which side from the route to drive in addition to shift correctly – particularly when drivers start honking their horns that you should move or get out of the way in which.
Arguably, it may be equally difficult remembering on which side of the road you should drive if you're on the desolate two-lane highway with a broken painted line dividing the street in the middle of nowhere – such as within the Outback in central Australia, for instance – because there are few signs or little visitors to remind you on are you going to you need to drive.
Take a split second to keep in mind your basic ability to drive and then try to relax as you drive while still keeping acutely aware of what is going on around you. You are best by taking your moment on your own rather than needlessly commit a mistake that could possibly lead to an accident – or worse.
Feeling Homesick? Use Your Rear-View Mirror
The rear-view mirror in one of the cars I rented in South Africa were built with a reminder to “please keep left” – an indication which I did not need. Photograph (c)2020 by Brian Cohen.
Driving down the highway and observing other vehicles provides me with the illusion there are driverless cars escorting passengers around everywhere. It's a strange sight initially; but a fast look in the rear-view mirror where everything looks normal again can help.
Need Some Practice? Find a Quiet Area
If you think you'll need some practice to obtain yourself better acclimated to driving around the opposite side of the road, ask to find a quiet place where you can practice – such as a clear parking area, for instance.
If you are situated in an active or congested area, perhaps take a moment to sit in the shifting positions from the gears from the stick shift – as well as acclimate yourself using the positions and processes of other controls – as the vehicle is stationary-
-but on the other hand, you're reading an article written by an individual who first learned how you can drive an automobile with a standard transmission within an empty parking lot late into the evening in Jericho, Ny. My second outing driving a vehicle using a stick shift was on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway – something I would not particularly recommend to the novice.
Crossing Land Borders
I haven't crossed a land border from one country to a different – yet, anyway – where drivers have to switch from one side from the route to another. I'll hopefully experience that one day. However, there are some land border crossings where bridges or any other devices automatically assist you in switching sides from the road, you'll most likely have to stop at a land border crossing anyway to obtain your paperwork so as; so switching sides from the road on which to drive should not be hard to achieve.
If you drive within the Bahamas, for instance, you have to drive around the left side from the road – but the steering wheel is also usually around the left side because of many of the cars being imported in the Netherlands. This might seem even more bizarre than simply driving around the opposite side from the road – a minimum of, it did to me after i was in the Bahamas in the past. Thankfully, exceptions like the Bahamas are rare all over the world – but remember that they do exist.