I bet that you thought (like me) that only in Uk you’re going to drive on left hand side?
A few years ago I was convinced that people drive on left hand side only in Uk and on right hand side everywhere else in the world.
Actually when I started to travel and visiting different countries in the world, I’ve found that’s different. In fact on 65% if the world you drive on right hand side and 35% on left hand side. To discover which countries you have to drive on left, read my post about driving on left hand side in the world.
Personally my first time that I drove on left hand side has been in Cyprus a few years ago. It was terrible… I remember the first turning where I’was watching a car coming from the opposite side… It was like see a car that’s coming over you… In the wrong direction!!!
Most of the people are worried about roundabouts… Roundabouts are the last thing that you’ve to worry about, you can never get them from the wrong side because the road sends you in the right direction, so you can’t miss it!
Toll Highways are really simple, same for regular highways, you have only to run straight… But on the opposite side… Be careful when you overtake and near the entrance or the exit, because the right of way is from the opposite… So on left.
The real problem is on the crossroads, especially when you’re in front of a complex one with multiple lanes and paths and you’re the first one that you have to cross… Doubts… Every time or almost most of them about where to go… It’s normal, so be extremely careful on crossroads.
Pay attention about the people in the car with you. I drove in Cyprus and going through an avenue on the right way, I heard a friend almost screaming: “you’re on the wroooong waaaay”. And I was right. It could be confusing and stressing!
Only one thing is sure: driving on left-hand side when you’ve always drove on right-hand side (and vice-versa of course), it’s complicated and require some practice before it become natural.
First of all I want reassure you: the pedals are in the same position. So the clutch in always on left and gas is on right. This is a huge convenience… Why, you could ask? And I’m going to say: have you ever tried to brake with your left feet? If you didn’t, you could try in your private road where you can’t have a car accident.
Which are the problems when you’re driving on left-hand side?
- Using the gear box. To drive, you’re sit on the right seat and you’ve to use the gears with the left hand. You’re sit on right and you’ve to change gear with the left hand. You can’t imagine how many times I was trying to change gear with my right hand moving the hand to the right door 😉 Same for the hand brake… Trying to find it to the door hahahaha
- Mirrors. Especially the rear mirror, I was turning on right to watch back… And you have to turn left… It sounds strange!
- When you’re on reverse gear, driving in Italy I usually watch back and I’m putting my right arm to the top of the passenger seat… Imagine that you’ve to do the opposite… You lose all the distance and reference points.
- Parking. You have to practice, because you’re turning on the opposite side and you could have some problems.
- Making a lot of confusion and don’t know on which side you’re right. This is a useful tip to avoid this kind of mistake: when you’re driving, it doesn’t matter on which side you are, you have to see the white line that separate the lanes always close to your driving side.
The nicest thing it’s that after several months passed in South Africa (close to 1 year), and in South Africa you drive on left-hand side, driving on this side became natural to me, and driving on right or left it’s almost the same now. These are the knowledge that when you practice a lot, it become automatic.
And now changing side from right to left or viceversa, I can do it without any problem or doubt, because it’s became automatic and completely natural (I can drive without thinking on both sides), changing gear it’s fine, no more discomfort. Some time ago when I was coming back to Italy, initially I got some doubts… 😉
My suggestion is only one: practice, a lot of practice! At the beginning you’re going to feel really uncomfortable, it’s like learning to drive… A second time! After a few days/weeks it’ll become natural also for you!
And so, have fun, follow my tips and drive safe!