How to get used to driving on the left: Here are 10 useful tips!

Who I am
Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

The most famous of the British who drove on the left in his even more famous pea green mini is, without a doubt, Mr. Bean. Have you ever wondered, looking at his adventures, how he managed to "drive in reverse"? Surely for Mr. Bean it is not this great undertaking, being he very English and therefore used to driving on the left. On the other hand, for those who have to move to a country with this type of tradition it can be difficult to get used to driving on the other side of the road. In fact, even though about 75% of the world's motorists drive on the right side of the road, some countries still drive on the left. It is therefore necessary to prepare before getting behind the wheel! Take some precautions before tackling this new driving mode, initially face short and slow-moving journeys, so as to get used to a new way of driving.



Index

  1. In which countries do you drive on the left?
  2. Get familiar with the car
  3. Start in places with little traffic
  4. Beware of roundabouts and intersections!
  5. Avoid overtaking!
  6. Get help from a passenger
  7. Don't get distracted
  8. Drive on familiar roads or equip yourself with a satellite navigator
  9. Choose a small car
  10. Remember to look right first
  11. Always take the leftmost lane
  12. Curiosity: the origins of driving on the left
  13. User questions and comments

In which countries do you drive on the left?

We have seen that a smaller percentage of motorists around the world drive on the left. Here, in detail, in which countries there is this tradition:


  • Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, China (Hong Kong and Macau), East Timor, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand
  • Australia and Oceania: Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu
  • Europe: Cyprus, Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Malta, United Kingdom
  • South America: Guyana, Suriname
  • West Indies and islands of the Indian Ocean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominic, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevi, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Islands US Virgins, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles
  • Islands of the Atlantic Ocean: Bahamas, Bermuda, Falkland Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and tristan da cunha. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

And now here is the 10 useful tips!


1 - Get familiar with the car

There is no better way to start with left hand drive than to explore the car. Try to familiarize yourself with the controls and commands which, of course, are located on opposite sides of those you are used to. Then take a seat on the driver's seat, try the gearbox (which you will have to operate with your left hand), the arrows, the wipers, etc. In cars with the driver's seat on the right, the pedals are placed in the same order but your right leg will be against the door instead of against the dashboard. So try to get used to this different feeling.


2 - Start in places with little traffic

If possible, make the first guides in places where traffic is scarce, perhaps in some suburban or residential neighborhood. In this way you can proceed more calmly and gradually become familiar with the new driving positions. When you feel sufficiently prepared, you will be able to tackle, always gradually, areas of the city with more traffic.

3 - Beware of roundabouts and intersections!

Roundabouts are frequent in European countries and, for those switching from right-hand to left-hand drive, they can be a bit difficult to deal with. Remember that the same rules apply as for driving on the right, if you have any doubts, follow the flow of traffic keeping a low speed and give priority to those who already occupy the roundabout. If you need to turn right at an intersection where there is no traffic light or traffic island, remember to give way to the left. Cross the entire carriageway and return to the left lane.


4 - Avoid overtaking!

Overtaking is a very dangerous maneuver, even if allowed on roads where the signs allow it. In case you are "taking your first steps" with the left hand drive, avoid engaging in overtaking, even if they seem safe to you. In any case, if it is really unavoidable, overtake on the right after checking carefully that no vehicles are coming from behind or in the opposite direction.


5 - Get help from a passenger

One of the main difficulties for those who are about to drive on the left is that of keep the right distances from the road lines. By taking a passenger with you, you can get help and avoid crossing the center line and avoid a great risk!

6 - Don't get distracted

An experienced driver sometimes allows himself small distractions, which are in any case dangerous and should be avoided. All the more reason, in a situation in which we are far from being used to, it is necessary eliminate any distractions. Try to keep the car stereo at a very low volume (or turn it off completely), if you have passengers in the car with you ask them to help you stay focused, do not use smartphones or cell phones!

7 - Follow familiar roads or equip yourself with a satellite navigator

You may not initially know in depth the path to take, but technology can come to your aid. Use the maps available for your smartphone e study the path before departure. Even better, equip yourself with a GPS navigator to have real-time directions that will facilitate your driving.


8 - Choose a small car

All these tips may not help you much if you decide to use a large car. It is advisable to practice with a small car which will make your approach to driving on the left easier.

9 - Remember to look to the right first

Especially when exiting a parking lot, remember to look right first, and not to the left. The circulation of cars is in fact reversed and, even if your instinct leads you to check to the left, force yourself to look the other way!

10 - Always take the leftmost lane

On multi-lane roads, always stay on the leftmost one. The march is slower but, given your condition as a beginner, this can only be an advantage!

Curiosity: the origins of driving on the left

At the end of this little guide, you may be wondering: why do people drive on the left in some countries? Is it us or are "they" the "wrong" ones? According to history, but also to mechanics, who "wrong" we are! In the Middle Ages, in fact, the soldiers had to proceed keeping the left side of the road. In this way, they could draw the sword - positioned right on the left side - easily using their right hand. This military custom and custom was later imposed as a real obligation even by Pope Boniface VIII, until Robespierre, as a sign of protest towards the Church, he decided to "do the opposite". Napoleon was also in favor of this change of gear, especially because it was left-handed! This historical explanation is accompanied by the technical one, which concerns the assembly of the first cars. In them, the handbrake was positioned on the outside of the right side of the vehicle. In this way, the steering wheel and the driver had to be necessarily on the same side. After the handbrake has taken its central position and inside the passenger compartment, the use of the strongest hand is favored - in theory, the right - and consequently the driver's seat moves to the left.


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