On driving

Some things I do when driving on the “wrong” side of the road and car, listed in the general order that it takes to get used to them. Thankfully the pedals are the same!

– Trying to put your seatbelt on from the wrong side. I’m the driver, my seatbelt is over my left shoulder. Wrong!
– If you talk yourself through every turn, it’s relatively easy to get these down. I literally say out loud to myself as I approach a turn “I am turning right, which means I have to go across traffic” or “I am turning left, which is the close turn.”
– Manual gearboxes remain the same, so 1st gear is the farthest away from you. Bonus points if you’re being chased by an elephant and can’t find the correct gear.
– Roundabouts on their own are a bit confusing as we don’t have many of them in America. Leading to more confusion when you’re new at it (but actually quite helpful once you’ve got it down) are arrows on the ground saying which lane you should be in if you want to turn left, go straight, or turn right. No matter which of these is your intention, you have to turn left into the roundabout, and just exit when you want to. So a “right turn” is actually a left turn into the roundabout, proceeding clockwise around the circle 3/4 of the way, and then turning left out of the roundabout. Now try this after putting on your right blinker.
– Getting into the passenger side, planning to drive. Bonus points if you try to insert the keys into the dashboard or glove box.
– Hitting the windshield wipers instead of the blinker. Startling, especially in dry weather when the wipers make a lot of noise, but not really dangerous. Whereas if you’re driving an older minivan where the gear shift is where you think the blinker ought to be, it can be quite scary. Turns out, if you flip the gear into reverse or park while driving, the car will just turn off (not explode like I had feared). So if you’ve hit the gear shift instead of the blinker, the car will cruise to a stop and you have to realize what happened, turn the key off, put the car in park, and then restart it. Awkward if you’ve just cut someone off in a roundabout (cough, Linsay, cough).
– Looking out the window to try and see what’s behind you. The rearview mirror is still in the middle of the car, to your left, not your right.
– Looking the correct way as a pedestrian (right, left, then right again despite what was drilled into your head as a kid).
– Panicking when looking into other cars as the driver is not paying any attention to the road (because it’s actually the passenger you’re looking at). Bonus points if it’s a dog.

Now go back to the states and learn it all over again! When I take roadtrips in former British colonies before and after my cruises, it takes awhile to get back in the groove, and back on the correct side of the road.

1 thought on “On driving”

  1. Going to England later this year. Important info for us.
    I esp was amused by the panicking when you see other drivers not paying attention. Bonus points if it’s a dog.
    Too funny!

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