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Driving on the left

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Worcester...
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Driving on the left

Can anyone comment on the learning curb associated with driving on the left hand side of the road (If you are from a country that drives on the right)? I have decided to rent a car, and wanted to know how long it took for others to adjust...

Lamont

Cape Town
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1. Re: Driving on the left

Well I can talk about the opposite change for people from SA (or the UK, Japan, India, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan and all the other countries that drive on the left) when going to Continental Europe or USA. Just the same issues!

It takes me about 15 mins to get used to shifting gears with the other hand. I think you look the right way at junctions right from the start because you are so focussed. The only problems come when you are turning out of a petrol station or out of the hotel onto the road the next morning. Your defences are a bit down then. Just concentrate on the correct side of your brain when carrying out any manouvre. After a day or two even this becomes automatic.

Also remember that you also need to adjust when you get back home. Many people jump into their own car and assume that their reactions will automatically be reprogrammed back to "normal". They won't!

Edited: 7:23 pm, August 29, 2010
Boston
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2. Re: Driving on the left

Two things from my recent experience going from USA to SA. 1. If not fully focused you may turn into the wrong lane. It's more likely to happen turning right, and especially when there is no traffic coming from that direction. As vdc says, it's only likely to happen when your guard is down. 2. There is a tendency to drift toward the left side of the road. For some reason when you're not used to driving on the left you feel like you are too close to the centerline, when in reality you are not. Other people from right-hand driving countries told me they were experiencing the same thing. This can be a serious problem on some of SA's two-lane roads which have no paved shoulder and a pretty steep dropoff from the pavement to the dirt shoulder. There are often people walking along the road and it would be easy to lose control if you go off the pavement. Again, full concentration is the key and you'll be fine. Agree with vdc that it takes very little time to get used to the left-handed shift - much less than I would have thought.

Greater Sydney...
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3. Re: Driving on the left

I drove an automatic in Canada so the gears were no problem. Apart from the very well made points regarding concentration, my biggest problem was the embarrasment of opening the car door, with keys in hand, only to find there was no steering wheel there ............

Freehold, New Jersey
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4. Re: Driving on the left

You will get into the wrong side every time you enter the car after shopping!

;-)

just remember when you make a turn the driver is always on the inside (middle) of the road

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Driving on the left

As others have said, it's really no time before you've learned how to work the gears (if you're renting a shift car) and keeping to the left. I usually keep up the mantra "Say Left" as I drive and I avoid driving at night when I could get tired and make a costly mistake. My biggest challenge has been roundabouts (circles) and more than once I found myself doing the full 360 before I figured which lane was appropriate. Overall, driving really not a problem.

Berkhamsted, United...
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6. Re: Driving on the left

One of the hardest things is roundabouts although there's not too many of them in SA!

Worcester...
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7. Re: Driving on the left

Thanks guys for the info! I will be renting an automatic, and hope that I will be able to get used to it quickly.

Lamont

Dublin, Ireland
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8. Re: Driving on the left

A bit of concentration is required, but SA is not a bad place to start driving on the left. Beware of situations where you pull in on the right side of the road, e.g. at a viewpoint. On a quiet road it is all to easy to then set off on the wrong side.

Amsterdam, The...
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9. Re: Driving on the left

Biggest problem I had: turning on my windscreen wipers when I wanted to go left or right ;-)

Funny thing is that this is also the only problem I had once I returned back home.

Greater Sydney...
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10. Re: Driving on the left

The windscreen wiper/indicator problem is one based on the type of car, not country. Cars I drove in Canada were the same as here, indicators on right, but some European based cars sold here in Oz have indicators on the the left, notably the Holden/Vauxhall/Opel Astra. I would imagine it is the same in South Africa.