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Foregoing Vacation to Post
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Anyone have any recommendations for driving on the left side of the road?

I’m considering a trip to a country which has left side driving: Suriname. Any tips on how to get used to left side driving before going? I’ve only driven in countries which have right side driving.
 
Posts: 1378 | Registered: 26 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you can, rent your car in a more rural area so you can get used to the new convention without having to deal with a ton of urban traffic.

While I was totally comfortable driving a car with a standard transmission, I made sure to get one with an automatic. I didn't want to have to *also* think about shifting with my left hand.

The car I got had an automatic, and also a manual choke. Cars my parents had when I was growing up had them, so I knew what to do. Big Grin

We're so accustomed to looking out for oncoming traffic when we make left turns. It's the opposite when you're in a left side driving country; the traffic you have to watch is on your right when you make a right turn. I actually learned that lesson as a pedestrian, almost the hard way, when crossing streets in London. I just got in the habit of looking both ways and then I was safe...

When I got back home to Chicago, I backed out of the driveway and found myself thinking "why is that stop sign way over to the right?" I had driven the half block from my driveway to the stop sign on the left side of the street. Guess I had adapted pretty well!


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We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. - Australian Aboriginal proverb

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Posts: 35575 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I found that I got confused if I thought about left side/right side. So this is what I did: instead of thinking about left or right, think about the fact that the driver always sits on the side of the car that faces the lane of oncoming traffic.

And instead of thinking about the differences between taking a right turn vs. a left turn, think about, when you're sitting in the driver's seat, the "safer" turn is the one that has you turning toward the passenger seat and this turn does not require you to cross the other lane. And the less safe turn is the one that takes you across the lane of oncoming traffic.


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Posts: 17342 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Refused to drive in New Zealand. Then the other guy almost killed when he turned into the wrong lane. A policeman was about to shut us down, I volunteered to drive.
Hated every inch of it.


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Posts: 24930 | Location: Still living at 9000 feet in the High Rockies of Colorado | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by wtg:
If you can, rent your car in a more rural area so you can get used to the new convention without having to deal with a ton of urban traffic.

While I was totally comfortable driving a car with a standard transmission, I made sure to get one with an automatic. I didn't want to have to *also* think about shifting with my left hand.

The car I got had an automatic, and also a manual choke. Cars my parents had when I was growing up had them, so I knew what to do. Big Grin


My first experience of driving on the left was in 1984. Picked up a car in central London. Manual transmission, with the drivers seat on the right. Shifting with the left hand. Oh, that was fun!

Actually, if you're good at driving a manual it's not all that hard, but I got thrown into the deep end to learn how to swim.

In addition to remembering to look both ways to cover your bets, one thing to keep in mind is making LEFT turns. Over here, you know that in making a right turn you need to extend into the intersection a bit before cutting right because otherwise you'll run over the curb. In England you have to extend into the intersection before cutting LEFT in order not to run over the curb. That's not second nature to most of us. I know I ran over a couple of curbs before that one became habit.
 
Posts: 11957 | Location: Williamsburg, VA | Registered: 19 July 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Same year as me, P*D. You were a brave soul picking up your car in London. My British friends told me they don't like to drive into London unless they have to.

I took the train to York and got one there, immediately driving out into the Yorkshire countryside. I think the car rental place put some kind of sticker on the rear view mirror that flagged me as a rookie left side driver. Sort of a "student driver" thing.

Roundabouts were another interesting experience. My friends told me that whoever is in the roundabout has priority, and everyone coming in has to wait for an opening. That helped a lot.

A couple of times I was in the circle and drove past the "exit" I wanted to take and had to go around more than once to earn another chance.

I managed not to kill myself or my Mom, and I returned the car intact.

edit: I wonder if there are any driving simulator apps that let you practice before you travel....


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We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. - Australian Aboriginal proverb

Bazootiehead-in-training



 
Posts: 35575 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Foregoing Vacation to Post
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Thank you everyone. Good suggestions here. Before I go, I think I’ll try practicing left side driving in an empty parking lot so as to get used to it. However good it helps.

wtg: There is or maybe there was a traffic circle in Chicago’s northwest suburb of Des Plaines at Wolf Road and Golf Road. I haven’t been in that area for a long time now. I wouldn’t be surprised if that intersection has been squared off due to accidents and complaints. I’ve driven through that circle many times. Studies have shown that people become disoriented when in placed in a circular room as to which direction is which. Traffic circles probably do the same thing. They confuse people as to which direction they’re going and when to exit the circle.

I’ve seen very few traffic circles in the U.S. There are lots of them in Germany when I lived there. Maybe Europeans are more used to and accepting of them than we are.
 
Posts: 1378 | Registered: 26 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
"I've got morons on my team."

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quote:
Thank you everyone. Good suggestions here. Before I go, I think I’ll try practicing left side driving in an empty parking lot so as to get used to it. However good it helps.


Well, the problem is that you won't be practicing with a true "left side" car. You'll be sitting on the "wrong" side, which messes up your perception and your coordination.
 
Posts: 11957 | Location: Williamsburg, VA | Registered: 19 July 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We're going to NZ in about a month, so the tips you all have provided should be helpful. It will be a car trip. We won't even pick up the car for the first four days, to get over jet lag and get a little used to the traffic.

I plan to take it very seriously. There was a woman in the UK who killed a motorcyclist because she turned right without recognizing the differences.
 
Posts: 19656 | Location: A cluttered house in Metro D.C. | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One other tip: Don't drive too close to the curb. There is a tendency to position yourself to the left hand side of the lane which is where you yourself are when driving on the right. You need to position yourself closer to the right side of the lane or you'll be striking the curb with the left wheels of the car.

I drove on the left for three years in Australia without many problems, although once I was driving down an unmarked lane next to a shopping center when the person in the passenger seat remarked "This is not a one way road." I had to think about that remark for a moment until I realized I had drifted over to the right side when I turned into the lane.

The advice to always look both ways, especially when on foot, is very important. While driving, you have some cues to remind you which side is correct, such as a left-handed shift lever and a window on your right. When walking, there are no such reminders.

One final observation. When my father visited me in Australia, he said it drove him crazy to see all the cars on the road with no drivers because there was no one sitting in the left hand seat.

Big Al


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Money seems to buy the most happiness when you give it away.

Why does everything have to be so complicated, all in the name of convenience. -ShiroKuro

A lifetime of experience will change a person. If it doesn't, then you're already dead inside. -MarkJ

 
Posts: 7114 | Location: Western PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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