Driving Tips Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road
There are still 53 countries which drive on the left hand side of the road. The most notable of these being the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and countries on the Indian sub-continent. In addition, many Caribbean islands and African countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, to name a few, drive on the left.Obviously, problems arise when people who are used to driving on the left visit a country which drives on the right and vice versa.If you rent a car, all the controls will be on the opposite side to what you're used to but in fact, this concentrates the mind to such an extent that driving on the correct side of the road is the least of your worries.
Probably the most difficult and dangerous driving transition is when holiday makers from Ireland or the UK visit continental Europe or the other way round. Invariably, they take their own vehicle and drive onto a ferry or the Eurostar Channel Tunnel train from one side of the road and when they get to the other end, they suddenly have to drive on the other side.In addition, you now have the difficulties of your steering wheel being on the wrong side of the car, making overtaking and other such manoeuvres rather problematical.
Following the tips below will make the transition to the other side of the road much easier.Roundabouts and traffic islands - Go with the flow. These things are designed so that you really shouldn't be able to even start going the wrong way around them.The road leading to the roundabout should be angled in such a way that it will be a real effort to go the wrong way, so just follow the natural line of the road.
Joining a main road from a side road - This is easy if there's traffic on the road already - just follow it in the direction you want to go. If the road is apparently empty, stop and think. Remember which country you're in, then look carefully in both directions. One of the major causes of serious accidents among foreign drivers is that they only look in one direction and it's the wrong one for the country they're in.
You may be used to looking to the right when you want to turn left in the UK because you don't have to cross a carriageway, but in Spain or the USA, you will be crossing the nose of traffic coming from your left, so look both ways, preferably several times.Turning into a side road from a main road - To make certain you turn onto the correct side of the side road, it's another occasion for actively remembering which country you're driving in.Traffic lights - In the USA and some parts of continental Europe, even when the main traffic lights are red, you will often encounter flashing amber lights signifying that you can filter in to the right turn, if there's no traffic coming. In the UK, it is rare that you can filter to the left but if you can, there will usually be a left hand arrow which will actually be green or, less often, flashing amber.
Motorway driving - Until you're used to it, stay in the inside lane and make sure you're aware of where the inside lane actually is. If the country drives on the right, it will be on the right, and the other way around.Overtaking - If you have front seat passenger that you trust, get them to peak out and see if it's safe to pull out and overtake. If you don't, and your visibility is fair because the vehicle in front is a normal size, inch out a little way for a look.If it's clear, put your foot down. If you're following a large vehicle such as a lorry, forget it if the oncoming traffic is quite heavy.
Otherwise, you might wait for a bend so that you can see what the oncoming traffic is like but if in doubt, just don't do it. Be patient, your opportunity will come.Danger areas - Believe it or not, the most likely places where a motorist will forget which side of the road to drive on are (a) coming out of a service (gas/petrol) station and (b) leaving a parking space at the side of the road, particularly in rural areas and small towns.
Be extra vigilant here.If you drive abroad with a friend or spouse, make sure that they know it's alright to shout at you if they see that you're about to drive on the wrong side of the road. Swallow your pride and admit that you may get it wrong some time and if they notice something amiss, they should say so without delay.
It could save both your lives!..Michael Russell.
Your Independent guide to Driving Tips.
By: Michael Russell
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