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"Wrong Side" Driver Training

Off road introduction to driving on the "wrong side" for drivers going abroad
  (+21)(+21)(+21)
(+21)
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against]

Businesses set up world-wide to allow international drivers to gain competency in driving on the "wrong side" of the street.

I'm a US citizen, but have travelled frequently to the UK and Japan, where the driving is "on the wrong side," though always in the care of others.

For our 25th wedding anniversary in the Fall, my wife and I plan to travel to New Zealand, where driving conforms to the UK style. I'd like to rent a motorhome, but am unsure if agencies would be willing to rent to a foreigner with no experience driving NZ style.

I'd gladly pay a few $100 before leaving the US to gain some experience with signalling, roundabouts, passing, etc. in the "Alice in Wonderland" world of left-hand drivers!

csea, Jan 24 2005

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       I find steering from the passengers seat more disorienting than driving on the wrong side of the road. Assuming lefty cars in lefty world, +. Good luck with the motorhome!
Shz, Jan 24 2005
  

       I find it far easier to get used to driving in a left hand drive car on the continent than taking a right hand drive car to the continent.
This is a pretty good idea if you can get enough other people to do it at the same time.
gnomethang, Jan 24 2005
  

       Like [gnome], I find moving to the other side of the car OK - when you're driving on the other side of the road it seems natural. What's difficult is driving my (UK, right-hand-drive) car in France or Germany. Also, I've found the hard bit about moving between the US and the UK is not the side of the road, but that in the UK you're much more likely to find yourself driving a manual, and the lanes on the roads are much narrower.
hippo, Jan 24 2005
  

       I suggest the steering wheel in the middle of the car, to be driven in the middle of the road.
FarmerJohn, Jan 24 2005
  

       You're only saying that because you already drive a MacLaren F1
hippo, Jan 24 2005
  

       Schlumberger employees used to get just this sort of training when they transferred UK to US, or vice versa. The company worked out that the drive to work was the greatest risk their staff faced. Having said this, have driven on both sides of the road and found it easy enough to adjust to the change in driving position. I found it much more difficult to adjust to different road markings and street furniture, and to the attitudes of the local drivers.
suctionpad, Jan 24 2005
  

       I'm with suctionpad - it's surprisingly easy to get used to changing gear with your right hand (as a briton in Portugal or France), but takes much longer to get used to, say, Portugese drivers' terrifying style of overtaking.   

       As someone who'll shortly be driving in the US for the first time (on LA roads, no less) I'm massively afraid. Foreign-road training would ease my mind no end.
friendlyfire, Jan 24 2005
  

       New Zealand campervan renters expect most clients to not be used to left hand side driving. There are a number of aids here in New Zealand for the wrong side driver ;-) The campervans have big obvious stickers on the dash reminding the driver of the correct side of the road and common tourist areas have big arrows painted on the road around access and egress areas. BTW the further south you go the better the scenery gets and the more mellow the other drivers. Enjoy
ljanz, Jan 25 2005
  

       Thanks, [ljanz], for the local knowlege!
csea, Jan 25 2005
  

       I've never driven opposite the good ol' USA way, but almost got wiped out crossing the street in Roadtown, BVI as a pedestrian. I looked left and stepped off the curb and almost got flattened. Great idea! [+]
Klaatu, Jan 25 2005
  

       Ahh I see now what you are after csea - what you want is training on how to drive on the "right side" of the road. Personally I have driven on both sides of the road from both sides of the car, and it definitely easier when you are driving the car on its intended side be that right or left. Overtaking in france while driving right hand drive car is - how shall one put it - interesting
goff, Jan 26 2005
  

       Random fact: The British style (on left of road, on right of car) actually makes the most sense. When meeting an enemy coming from the opposite direction, your sword hand would be closer to the center of the road. Then the French went and ruined everything by switching round after the Revolution.
mat334, Jan 27 2005
  

       The british system makes the most sense becuase of where it puts your sword hand? I don't HAVE a "sword hand"; nor do I have a sword. Nor would I carry a sword in my car, had I a sword and a car.
tiromancer, Jan 27 2005
  

       funny that! I picture tiromancer with a full chain mail battledress, helmet and sword - not to mention the odd trebuchet or two.
po, Jan 27 2005
  

       This is baked, as pointed out by suctionpad, by some corporations. However, it's probably more effective to get your training in-country, i.e., how do you simulate the traffic in Port Harcourt, without actually being in Port Harcourt?
xrayTed, Jan 27 2005
  

       [tiromancer] You don't carry a sword in your car? How do you engage other drivers in combat then?
hippo, Jan 27 2005
  

       Simple, hippo. Use an lance.
st3f, Jan 27 2005
  

       Many a true word spoken in joust.
egbert, Jan 27 2005
  

       The sort of training you should get for NZ South Island is how to park your motorhome so that it doesn't blow over; how to avoid whirlwinds; how to negotiate steep gravel tracks, and how to handle blow outs.
Wow, the winds were strong, with whirlwinds picking up the water from lakes one after the other (eddies from the mountains). I went over the highest road (I think) in the South Island, and went sideways down the other side (in a motor home!) several times - just a low gear - no braking. I remember it well - great fun!
Ling, Jan 27 2005
  

       Warning: Sheep Ahead. This is one thing you have to be aware of in New Zealand. You are bound to meet a flock of sheep on the road and that is the traffic jam of South Island. They take the whole road and don't make the mistake of using your horn! Eventually the farmer will get the sheep to the paddock on the other side of the road.
Pellepeloton, Sep 17 2006
  

       I support it! Without out being used to UK driving I would definitely go on the "right side" by accident.
Phaedrus, Sep 18 2006
  

       Some kind of booklet highlighting the differences in traffic regulations would be handy for driving in foreign countries.   

       For Germany I would recommend:
1. Always give way to the right, even to traffic joining the main road unless you specifically see a sign giving you right of way. Repeat: Always give way to the right....oh, apart from on traffic islands.
  

       2. When they tell you to put winter tyres on, they're not joking.   

       3. Someone flashing their headlights doesn't mean, "After you, my dear", it means, "Aus der Bahn! Die Strasse gehört MIR!".   

       4. Parking in the opposite direction to the flow of traffic can earn you a parking ticket. Don't bother arguing. There is no logic involved.   

       5. Parking English-style (driving forwards into huge space leaving miles of room at front and back) will earn you withering looks.   

       6. Do not assume that any other road-users will obey the traffic regulations.
squeak, Sep 18 2006
  

       //3. Someone flashing their headlights doesn't mean, "After you, my dear", it means, "Aus der Bahn! Die Strasse gehört MIR!". //
Nice one!. May I add another addition to [csea]'s original idea.
I drove in Spain with a few friends in a Hire (LHD) car with no problems apart from three issues:
1) - for no good reason I cannot fully lock down the handbrake (the car will move but I will get an alarm).
2) - I CANNOT find the lights when entering a tunnel (although at any other time this is not a problem and they are logically placed).
but more worryingly
3) - In the UK when you take a 'Good Look' (i'e' shoulder turn) over your left shoulder you can see a lot of the road. If you try the same manouver in a LHD car you practically knock youself out on the door upright!.
Apparently this looks very amusing from the rear seats.
gnomethang, Sep 19 2006
  

       // In the UK when you take a 'Good Look' (i'e' shoulder turn) over your left shoulder you can see a lot of the road. If you try the same manouver in a LHD car you practically knock youself out on the door upright!. //   

       Err, you're supposed to look over your right shoulder in the uk anyway. You ar checking you drivers-side blindspot before pulling out! The left shoulder is no use!
webfishrune, Sep 19 2006
  

       // 5. Parking English-style (driving forwards into huge space leaving miles of room at front and back) will earn you withering looks. //   

       What the heck are you talking about? With the exception of Reginald Molehusband, we Brits are among the few people in the world who *can* parallel park properly. You should visit the US sometime, where parking is such a lost skill that all car parks are arranged with spaces on the diagonal which you drive into forwards. They don't even expect people to be able to reverse into a space end-on, never mind parallel :-/   

       Another thing which would help international driving would be if all countries used the standard international set of iconic street signs. Here in the US they use a few at random, but far too many signs are text only. So we have frequent visitors from Mexico (at least down here on the border) who have no idea what half the signs mean. When they say something like "no right on red", that's a problem.   

       Another US issue that annoys drivers from more civilized countries is the inconsistency of their driving rules. In Britain for example, a red light *always* means stop. This 'right on red' rule is typical of the exceptions that have to be learned, complicating what would otherwise have been a simple rule. (The effect could have been had in a more consistent fashion by having a green filter-light that is always on)   

       -G
gtoal, Sep 19 2006
  

       //Err, you're supposed to look over your right shoulder in the uk anyway. You ar checking you drivers-side blindspot before pulling out! The left shoulder is no use!//
Um, Nope, what I was talking about was on motorway driving where you are checking your rear view mirror then your inside mirror in order to get back into the nearside lane. Occasionally a bigger look is required to check the blind spots. I will do the same thing with my rearview mirror and off side mirror but when moving to the fast or overtaking lane in the UK but I am conditioned (in a RHD car) to not move my shoulders/head so much.
Herein lies the problem.
gnomethang, Sep 19 2006
  

       Australia (at least, the parts I've been to) has left-on-red.
New Zealand does not, although there are many traffic light groups that include a left-turn green arrow (and often a right-turn green, and occasionally a full set of nine lights, covering and controlling all possibilities!)
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 19 2006
  


 

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