Tips for Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road

Tips for Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road

One very intimidating thing when planing a trip or moving to another country is what side of the road you drive on. If you’re like me you spent your entire life driving on one side of the road. Your instincts are ingrained and driving becomes second nature. Now image flipping all of that around. Could you do it? Here are my tips for driving on the opposite side of the road.

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This is not the easiest thing to learn and if your not feeling confident behind the wheel then play it safe and look at alternative modes of transportation. When I first moved from America to Australia it took me months before I felt comfortable enough to hop behind the wheel. And WOW how strange it felt! I now drive confidently on either side of the road but that confidence has taken over six years of practice and to be honest large cities can still be quite daunting.

Tips for Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road

Steering Wheel Location

In America the steering wheel is on the left side of the car and you drive on the right side of the road. About two thirds of the countries in the world drive on the right side of the road. Australia, New Zealand, UK and a few other counties drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the car.

This can be very disorientating. Especially in areas that may not be your strongest (parallel parking for me!). When I first moved to Australia, I can’t tell you how many times I got into the wrong seat in the car. Oftentimes casually pretending that I was just placing my handbag in the passenger seat and I wasn’t about to hop into that seat. Even six years of driving in Australia, I still pick the wrong side of the car at times, fortunately not very frequently now.

Orienting your position on the road

I find one of the most helpful tips is orientating my position on the road. As the driver, regardless of if you are on the left or right side of the road, the steering wheel is always the closest to the center/median of the road. This has saved me many times driving in unfamiliar areas and turning down a new street.

Learning New Road Rules

Be sure to do a bit of research before driving in a different country. There are bound to be road rules that are different to what you are used to. For instance, in Australia you cannot turn left at a stoplight on a red light, you must wait for a green light, unless there is a sign that states you may turn on red. In America its the opposite where you can turn right at a stoplight on a red light unless there is a sign that prohibits it.

Road rules vary from country to country, so do a bit of research to ensure your own and others’ safety.

Driving on the opposite side of the road
Roundabouts

Roundabouts

Now I believe roundabouts are mostly common in European influenced countries. In Australia they are very common. They are not a hard thing to learn, but can be intimidating when you get to a busy multi-lane roundabout. Again, do a bit of research on the area you plan on driving in and prepare yourself before getting behind the wheel. Check the road rules on which side you give way to.

License

Perhaps this should be further up the list, but check to make sure your license is valid for driving in the area you will be visiting/living. In Australia, visitors can drive on an American license for up to 3 months. If you will be visiting for longer then you will need to apply for an Australian License. This can be an extremely easy process, it was for me.

Study The Area You Are Visiting

Lastly, make sure you study the maps of the areas you are vising. Familiarize yourself as much as possible before getting behind the wheel. Perhaps even take a day or two to explore on foot if you can. Enjoy your adventure and prepare as best as you can.



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