Most people have become so used to driving that they can afford to do so unconsciously. This feeling changes once you travel to a country that drives on the opposite side of the road. Well, 30% of the world’s population drives on the left side of the road, according to the Business Insider.
This means that everything, from controls to the hand brake, will be on the other side for any driver coming from a country that drives on the right. What makes this even more difficult is the fact that traffic rules tend to change once you start driving on the other side of the road. However, all it takes is a little bit of practice to get used to this.
Here are four tips for adjusting to driving on the opposite side of the road:
Study Traffic Rules Beforehand
Traffic rules change as you start using the other side of the road. For instance, some European countries will have single track roads and roundabouts, all of which have different rules for using. Sadly, these might not be present in other countries, which might leave you unsure of how to use them.
Take your time to get accustomed to the traffic rules of the country, and identify all the things that are different from your country. If you are staying there for more than two weeks, it might pay to actually take a driving course to avoid common traffic mistakes that foreigners make. Luckily, you can complete some courses within a few days.
Stay Away From Heavy Traffic at First
Driving on the opposite of the street is stressful enough without adding traffic into the equation. For most foreign drivers, it can be possible to start driving towards oncoming traffic without knowing it. As such, make sure that you are accustomed to using your car before driving in heavy traffic.
For instance, you can start by learning how to drive the car in empty parking lots. Next, take your car for a ride in areas with light traffic. Above all, you should ensure that you are familiar with the location of all car controls for an easy time using them.
Opt For Automatic Cars
Sure, you might have the skills for driving manual cars, but this doesn’t make you a guru in foreign countries. While most stick shift cars might look alike, they may differ in many ways, especially when the driver’s seat is on the opposite side of what you are used to. Even worse, the controls will be on the opposite side.
The trick is to rent an automatic vehicle as it is easier to adjust to. While it might cost you more, the extra expense is no match to what you would pay if you were involved in an accident.
Avoid Any Distractions
Distracted driving is among the leading causes of accidents on roads. Reading text messages or even changing songs on the radio is a recipe for danger on the road. When combined with the fact that you aren’t yet used to driving your car, the chances of getting into an accident multiply.
Keep away from all distractors while driving on opposite sided roads. You can place your phone on ‘do not disturb mode’ until you reach your destination. Furthermore, there are a variety of apps that can help you drive safely on the road and use the phone hands-free. At the very least, ensure that both of your hands are on the steering wheel most of the time.
Driving in a new country will typically introduce you to new traffic norms, especially if you have to change the side of the road you drive from. As long as you adjust to the new road rules and get comfortable with the country’s vehicles, this shouldn’t be an issue. Consider these tips to avoid any accidents.