For someone who is used to driving on the left hand side, was it hard to drive on the right hand? Or do you adjust pretty easily?
How long will you be in the other country for?
My experience is that it’s not hard, as long as you keep your mind on what you’re doing. You will struggle to figure out where the left side of the car ends at first, and you’ll be more likely to curb it, but keep your eye on the center line to line up and you’ll be fine. Three point turns are surprisingly tricky - your instinct as to which way to head first will put you on the wrong side of the road at the end of the maneuver.
Also my experience is that two weeks is sufficient for it to become second nature and you won’t notice you’re on the other side of the road. Getting used to things when I came back home was instant (as soon as I got off the plane) - even after an extended (six-week) absence.
If you’re going for less than a week, be very careful of letting your mind wander - especially late on relatively empty roads. My only major mistake in about 20 trips to “the other side” was last summer when I was in the UK for a funeral. It was late and I was driving through a nearly empty parking lot thinking of other things. I took a roundabout the wrong way, saw oncoming headlights and swerved into a parking space to get my head back in the game.
Edit: Some people think it’ll be easier to drive a left-hand drive car in a right-hand drive country. I can’t imagine how this would ever be easier; the ergonomics of the car are irrelevant next to the difficulty of remembering which side of the road you should be on if all your physical cues are telling you you’re actually at home.
I think it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, but you really have to concentrate at first. Two problem areas are when you come out of a turn at an intersection–if your mind wanders you can end up on the wrong side of the road out of habit–and unusual intersection configurations.
What about getting used to where to look in terms of windows and mirrors?
I’ll probably be moving to the U.K and living there for at least a year.
I never noticed that. It’s all symmetrical from one side to the other. I mostly just use the driver’s side mirror, and you’ll be getting the same kind of view from it on either side.
No problem in the car. Even a stickshift. But the turns, as others have said. When turning, look right left right to check traffic, instead left right left. (Or as is done in Taiwan, you can skip looking altogether and let the other drivers deal with it!).
I have driven both LH and RH cars in countries where they drive opposite to UK. You get used to it but have to concentrate and remind yourself when first starting off each day. Using the side mirrors and looking around is imperative.
Recent case in UK -US woman killed a motor cyclist whilst driving on wrong side of the road after coming out of a US Air Base in Northamptonshire.
Might be worth you sticking a “postie” reminder in the car.
Then you’ll also need to be aware when crossing a road that your instincts are all wrong and they’ll stay wrong a lot longer than your car instincts will because you learned them when you were tiny. When a car is coming from behind and you’re considering stepping out in the road to (for example) pass an obstacle on the sidewalk (pavement in the UK), your hindbrain will be telling you the car is on the other side of the road but it’s not. It’ll take months or maybe years for that instinct to alter, and it won’t be helped by the fact that Brits don’t care which side of the road they park on (another opportunity for terrifying driving moments when you are momentarily distracted and then panic wondering if you’re on the wrong side or if they are).
Another thought: North American (and Taiwanese) road convention is to have yellow lines between opposing lanes of traffic. It’s an incredibly clever idea that Britain never adopted (yellow lines are used on the sides of roads there to indicate parking rules) and there are many narrow roads in the UK on which you’ll be unsure if you’re on a one-way street or a two-way street if you missed the sign at the beginning of the road. Especially easy when exiting a parking lot or something onto a one-way (or is it a two way and people have parked on the wrong side of the road?).
You’re worried about the wrong things
I agree, crossing the street is more of a problem.
I’m from Australia and lived in The Netherlands for a while. It took about a month to get used to right side roads, and when we visited London it took about two days to get used to left side roads again.
The first time I drove on the left (in the UK) I did fine until I entered a circle. Minor panic mode as I drove a few laps before I caught my bearings
I can’t recall any major issues when I started driving in Taiwan. I drive an automatic in Taiwan which presumably made the transition much easier. Sometimes I drive a bit too far from the curb.
I used to regularly drive from England to the continent for work, so was already used to driving on the right side of the road (albeit with a right hand drive car).
Reversing is still a bit odd as I can’t get out of the habit of looking over my left shoulder. However, my car has a reverse camera so it’s not a biggie.
The most important thing for me, and I consciously think about and sometimes say it out loud to myself, is look right first, not left, when pulling out.
Once actually on the road driving it’s kind of natural.
I’ve driven a car in Okinawa twice. Each time I was extremely nervous the first day. I literally talked to myself–“Stay on the left, stay on the left” whenever I faced a dreaded right turn in heavy traffic. It took me two days to stop turning on the wipers whenever I meant to use the turn signal.
But I felt fine by the third day, so if you’ll be there a few months I’m sure you’ll do fine. Don’t let your mind wander as others have said.
If there long term, you should be ok after a day or two ! For me biggest thing is getting the wrong door (I done this a few times). After I am inside the car it is fine but I drive a lot in NZ/Japan/Taiwan/USA so change is not a big deal to me. Biggest deal might be going from UK to EU in your UK car (then I really worry about turns) if you do that.
Before I went to New Zealand I played Forza Horizon 3 for a while and tried to drive responsibly (well…responsibly for a video game). When I went there it required some more concentration at first, especially at intersections, but it was pretty easy. The biggest problems I had were walking up to the wrong side of the car and continually turning on my windshield wipers instead of my turn signals.
I can see me doing that a lot. I guess I could drive fast enough where signaling anyone behind me is useless.
Yeah that I do all the time.
It’s only an issue with Japanese cars. Most cars in Britain have the stalks the same way round as a left-hand drive.