Driving on the left - how hard can it be?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by yg17, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I just booked a trip to Ireland for next year and super excited. Since we're going all over the country, we are renting a car - manual, since it's significantly cheaper, so as the only person on the trip who knows how to drive a manual, I'll get to drive the entire time.

    As a car guy, getting to drive on the other side of the road has always been an odd bucket list item of mine, and I'll get to cross it off. But there's the voice in the back of my head that's like "You idiot, you're going to **** it all up, turn into opposing traffic and kill everyone!"

    So for anyone from a right hand drive country that went to a LHD country and drove, how difficult was it to adjust the first time? It seems like it can't be that hard - just follow what the other cars are doing, right? Any tips?
  2. puma1552 macrumors 601

    Nov 20, 2008
    enjoy shifting with your left hand.

    RHD is no big deal, youll hit the wipers when trying to go for the turn signal a few times but thats about it.
  3. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    I wouldn't think the actual driving would be that difficult, at least, of course, not for an automatic.

    It's when you have to make a reflex decision that would really spook me.
  4. iBlazed macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2014
    New Jersey, United States
    Agreed, muscle memory is difficult to retrain. I'm sure it would take quite a while for your reflexes to catch up with such a significant change in something that comes as naturally as walking to many.
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Well, I'm from the 'British Isles' and I have met this precise conundrum from the other side of that particular perspective - i.e. my entire world view was formed from a version - or vision - of the world where one drove on the left of the road……and I have had to absorb the world view of those who have to drive on the right hand side……..

    Let us just say that this is the sort of matter which requires concentration…….endless, and eternal concentration…...
  6. Happybunny macrumors 68000

    Sep 9, 2010
    I can speak from experience driving in a RHD auto in the UK is not as hard as it seems. Just sitting in the auto the layout keeps you on you toes, gear changes will be more difficult at first but you will soon get to be second nature.

    One note of caution most people who visit the UK/Eire say crossing the road as a pedestrian has far more danger, your whole life you have looked left, and suddenly you have to LOOK RIGHT.
  7. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    In all honesty you needn't worry that much if you're going to Ireland. They all drive really slowly there and the population is only about 6 million (providing you're going to the South) - there are cities where the population is higher.

    TL;DR: roads are sparsely populated, people don't drive as quickly/erratically as they do in the UK, and you'd be more likely to hit a sheep than hit another car. :)

    Enjoy your trip dude. It's a lovely country.
  8. Mavimao macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2005
    Lyon, France
    A couple years ago, the wife and I drove around Scotland for a week. Like you, I was nervous about driving on the other side of the road with the steering wheel on the opposite side. It was definitely weird at first - and I definitely had to think extra hard when I approached my first roundabout - but I was surprised by how quickly you adjust. Actually, the hardest part, funny enough, was coming back and remembering to drive on the right side of the road!

    A little advice: it's nice to ask the passenger to keep an eye out to make sure you're on the right lane, etc.
  9. juanm macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    Get ready to turn on the wipers very often.
    Driving in the city is stressful at first, but then you realize you just have to "drive with the flow". In scarcely populated areas, though, you'll find that when you don't see any cars around, it's easy to forget to stay on the left, so tie a knot or something around the wheel, to remind yourself that when you get on the road, you have to start on the wrong side. I mean it.
    Also, use a GPS. One less thing to worry about.
  10. Menel macrumors 603


    Aug 4, 2011
    When you are over there struggling, pit a smile on, and remember to be glad they don't reverse the floor pedals >:)
  11. orestes1984, Nov 2, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014

    orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2005
    This only becomes an issue if you've never driven a car that's been wired back to front. If you've driven a car with the wiper stalks back already you're halfway set for success. Given European cars here are wired for left hand drive anyway I never had an issue adapting.

    The biggest issue is driving at night and turning out on the wrong side of the road, that and roundabouts, roundabouts will do your head in at first.
  12. rikmac111 macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2013
    I do this all the time. After a few days it becomes normal. The hardest thing to remember is the blinkers and the windshield washer are reversed so everytime you go to use the blinkes your window wipers come on... All foot and gas pedals stay the same. Drive carefully and remember that you, the driver, is always in the middle side of the lane... Also, depending how long you are there, it may be a challenge coming back to the other side of the road...
  13. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2014
    I've done Austrailia, Ireland and the UK for short periods. I find its tough, I know others who do not. The roundabouts for me were killers as I'm used to the Continent. For those, tuck yourself behind someone whenever possible. If you're USA, you're probably not used to them at all. The USA appears to love an endless stream of red lights and stop signs. At lights, note which lane you want to turn into. As someone else noted, you need to concentrate.

    The good news is Ireland was ok. I had few if any issues in Ireland and the people are quite accommodating. The UK I won't drive anymore. The Brits are fast drivers (good fast drivers) and things happen too fast for my comfort.
  14. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2005
    I can only recommend renting a European car if you're coming over here to Australia, it will resolve the windscreen wiper issue automatically.
  15. rikmac111 macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2013

    Yes, I am always going to Japan and that may be different... Thanks for the clarity.
  16. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Actually its easier to deal with if there is some traffic around. You are less likely to forget to keep on left. Be a little more careful at roundabouts or circles giving way to your right and remember no turns at red lights.

    You might also find parking is something you have to get used to with the wheel on the other side.
  17. CrickettGrrrl macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2012
    B'more or Less
    I've spent a lot time off and on, driving in the Bahamas where there is a mix of left-side & right-side drive cars & plenty of crazy drivers. It's pretty easy to get used to actually. The danger as others have pointed out, is when you return to the States where you're comfortable & familiar ---and then find yourself accidentally bearing to the left side without thinking for awhile.

    Roundabouts are great, I loved driving those, even in Nassau. In the U.S. they are still slightly unusual and a lot of people here hesitate overlong before entering --which can be rather irritating sometimes. :p
  18. 748s macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2001
    Tiger Bay
    Write T on your left hand and W on your right hand.
    T = tight W = wide
    Turning left will be a tight turn to correct side of road, turning right will be a wide turn to correct side of road.
  19. juanm macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    In Australia I bought a Pajero and also rented a couple of Toyotas, and they were all reversed compared to Europe. How does that front-back wiring work?
  20. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68040


    Feb 9, 2010
    I visited Ireland years ago and had to adjust to both the other side of the road and a stick shift in the rental car. My advice, be careful at the traffic circles. UNless, there are other cars to follow, it can get confusing.
  21. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    I've driven in the UK with both versions--right side and left side drive. I found that for me it seemed more likely that I would end up on the wrong side of the road with the left side drive--this was a car I had driven to the UK from Germany. The next trip (quite a few years later) I rented a car and had no urge to drive on the wrong side but did have a hard time judging where the curb was when parking--just seemed like my brain couldn't understand why the curb was on that side. But overall--no big deal either way.
  22. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    I find traffics circles in many East coast City suburbs! You must be in one of those failed cities like Detriot, Chicago that didn't change when the Main Company left town or disappeared. ;)
  23. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68040


    Feb 9, 2010
    I live in New Jersey. Grew up on Long Island. We still have some traffic circles left but they are slowly disappearing. I just meant that driving the other way around, especially on a small road where you really aren't that far over to one side, got confusing at first when I wasn't really thinking about which way to go.
  24. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2005
    It works on European model cars, they don't bother to reposition the washer and indicator stalks when they sell them in Australia. This goes for Opels and Vauxhals and European Fords also.
  25. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    Just take one-way roads everywhere and you'll be fine. :)

    Seriously, the challenge will be dealing with situations that call for reflexive actions until you get used to the new arrangement. Driving at night will add another layer of complexity. Just take it easy, and follow the advice to have your passengers be on the lookout.

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