Driving on the left for the first time

Discussion in 'Members Zone' started by ZeroClub, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    Last week I bought a small, economical city car here in the Republic of Cyprus.

    I'm getting used to driving on the left hand side of the road. At first it felt very strange. For the past several decades in the United States I drove cars with manual transmissions, but shifting my current manual transmission with my left hand feels very different. The shift pattern remains the same (e.g., 1st gear is top left). All the pedals are the same too (clutch is left, brake is middle, gas is right).

    It is also odd to look toward your upper left to see the rear view mirror, which provides an opposite angle view out of the back window. And here you take a quick look over your right shoulder before cutting over into the fast lane.

    Old habits die hard. Several times I have approached the left hand front door of the vehicle to get in and start driving, only to realize that the steering wheel is on the opposite side. One time, in the dark, I actually sat down in the passenger seat, by mistake (I'm glad nobody saw me do it.) At least I haven't driven on the wrong side of the road.

    They also make extensive use of traffic circles ("roundabouts") here, which takes some getting used to. Traffic runs clockwise on these roundabouts, of course.

    There is no left-turn-on-red rule. Green lights turn yellow for few seconds before turning red; red lights turn yellow for about two seconds before turning green.

    Anyway, it has been an interesting experience. After driving for many years in the U.S., most of the physical movements of driving were more or less automatic. During the first few days of driver here, there were moments when I felt like I was a raw beginner again. It doesn't take long to get re-oriented, though.
  2. UKCowboysFan

    UKCowboysFan Member

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    I can imagine roundabouts are the most difficult thing.

    In France (I believe) you give way to traffic entering onto the roundabout.

    Driving in the US is much easier (I've found) in comparison to Europe.
    I do like the fact that you can turn left on a Red light.

    But as you say, it doesn't take long to get used to it
  3. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    Yeah, UKCF, the roundabouts are different. Most of the rings have two lanes. Sometimes your exit has two lanes, sometimes only one. Here, the driver who wishes to enter the roundabout waits until there is a clear spot, then goes.

    It seems to me that a main difference between roads in the U.S. and Europe is that there is so much more room (width) on the U.S. roads. In several places around here, it feels as if you need a shoehorn to squeeze past the cars that are parked all along the sides of streets.

    I'm glad I have a dinky car; I wouldn't want anything as big (wide) as a Ford Taurus or Honda Accord. In the U.S., I'd occasionally drive a Ford F150. I can't imagine what it'd be like to drive a Ford F150 here (and no one does that, of course).
  4. Faerluna

    Faerluna I'm Complicated

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    My father lived overseas for years and he used to have the same dilemmas.

    He left himself a note on the dashboard each time he would be in a different country, like "Right side" when he would be in the states for vacation and "Left side" when he would go back.

    I remember being in the car with him once when he made a left turn and stayed in the left lane.

    I said, "Uhhhh....wrong lane" and he corrected himself fast! Luckily, no cars were oncoming and we had a laugh about it.

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