As an American living in England, one of the biggest driving obstacles I wanted to overcome was being able to drive successfully on the other side of the road. Driving on the other side of the road, especially when you aren’t used to it, can be nerve wracking for even the most self-assured drivers.
I was able to overcome my concerns and become a confident ‘other side of the road’ driver – so I’ve outlined the tips and tricks that helped me so that you can become one too!
Don’t assume it’s just a matter of going from right to left (or left to right)
Driving on the other side of the road is not just a matter of going from right to left, or vice versa – it requires mental processing. Don’t feel frustrated with yourself as you get started, as it will take some time for driving on the other side to feel fully comfortable.
If you are used to driving an automatic, rent an automatic
Driving on the other side of the road presents enough challenges, so if you aren’t used to driving a manual transmission car, then don’t try to do it at this time. Driving a manual car is not something that can be picked up right away, so it’s important to stick with the type of transmission you are used to using.
Rent a car that is the same size or smaller than the car you normally drive
When the location of the driver’s seat changes, so does your ability to perceive the size of the car and the space you occupy. For this reason, don’t rent a car that is larger than what you typically drive. If you don’t typically drive, go for a smaller car option.
Don’t drive after an overnight flight
Unless you’re able to get sufficient sleep while flying overnight, it’s not safe to drive when you are tired – it can actually be similar to driving drunk. Instead, wait till you’ve had proper sleep so that you’ll be able to fully focus behind the wheel.
Try to stick to highway driving
Cities are stressful to drive in under the best of circumstances, so the best approach is to avoid them at least initially. Highway driving is much easier as the flow of traffic is simpler to follow and will help you get your bearings early on.
See if you can use public transport for a day to help get oriented
If you have a day or two to spare, try riding buses and walking while paying attention to the road patterns. This will come in use later if you drive along the same or similar roads.
Know which way in a roundabout to go
Roundabouts are circular intersections that flow around a central island. Roundabouts are very common in England and France, but to a lesser extent can be seen worldwide.
If you are in a country where the driver’s seat is on the right, you will go left to enter a roundabout. If you are in a country where the driver’s seat is on the left, you will go right to enter a roundabout.
Have you driven on the “other side of the road”? What are your top tips?
6 thoughts on “7 Tips for Driving on the Other Side of the Road”
So scary! I’ve never done it, but want to 🙂
It’s scary at first but gets easier! I’m glad I’ve done it now.
I love your tips, Noelle. What’s the best thing to do for orientation when you find yourself in a roundabout?
I’m glad you find them useful, Agnes!
So for orientations in roundabouts, for me going from the US to the UK, the main thing I remember is just to think “left left left” (and you’d do the opposite if you’re used to UK driving coming to the US or Europe).
Of course, if you get really confused and can sit idly for a few seconds (assuming there isn’t a car honking behind you), then you can also wait and see which way the flow of traffic ends up going.
I hope that helps!
Visiting my sister in New Zealand who was ill and I was using her car to transport her to appointments, etc. I have driven in NZ three times previously but not for 15 years. I set up a driving lesson for the first day (even though I’ve driven in Canada and other right-hand drive places for 45 years, along with three times in NZ for total of six months left-hand drive previously, I wanted to have a navigator that would not yell at me or panic when I first got used to other side of road and car (AND manual transmission with getting used to left-hand gear changing!). It was a two hour session on highways, country and large hilly roads, city and small town/village, parallel parking, roundabouts, road signage, rush hour and quiet traffic, back lanes, and tight access. Was the smartest thing I did and really helped me get my confidence up and running sooner, I believe. Did this third day after arriving so I was rested and ready.