Driving on the left side, the right side
My dad is petrified of driving on the left side, in his mind, the absolutely wrong side. Or, to quote my dad “I’d rather be shot than having to drive on the wrong side of the road” (my dad is prone to hyperbole).
Since my parents live in a country where they drive on the “correct side” I’m happy to shrug off his comments. If there wasn’t the trip we’re planning to do with them in December. In a snapshot it’ll involve: two weeks, two thousand kilometres, one car, four people, one round trip from Perth, Kalgoorlie, Albany, Margaret River and back to Perth. Out of the three potential drivers (my mum doesn’t drive) one would rather be shot than sit behind the steering wheel…mhhhh. That does strike me as rather demanding, doesn’t it?
So, I’m trying to get my head around my dad’s anxieties:
You have to change your thinking about which side you drive on, right?
Really? Do you constantly think about driving when you drive? I mostly listen to the music or the voices in my head and we sure as hell ain’t talking about driving. Every now and then other obnoxious drivers, red lights, green lights, speed limits pop into my head these aren’t left-right specific though.
The first weeks of driving in Australia (as far as I remember) I was surprised how little difference the other side made. The only time it felt weird was when I actually climbed into the car. In fact, signage, marked lines and other traffic always pointed me towards driving on the left side.
Shifting gears with the other hand is difficult, right?
Uhm, we drive a manual. Very few cars in Australia have manual gear shifts and admittedly it does feel weird, but it isn’t difficult. If you’ve learned how to drive a manual it isn’t hard to swap to the other side.
On top of driving on the “wrong” side there’s also plenty of other different rules, right?
Naw, not really. 99% of Australian traffic rules are pretty much like those in Europe, UK or US. The 1% difference that comes to my mind is how you use roundabouts. Here, roundabouts have three rules (these are my pearls of wisdom, a daily driver. If you want to be certain this is accurate visit the road and traffic department in the respective Australian state):
1. Give way to everyone who comes from the right.
2. Turn into the roundabout clockwise.
3. Use your indicator (essential!) before you enter the roundabout similar to when you approach a cross junction. If you want to exit left, indicate left. If you want to exit right, indicate right. If you want to exit straight ahead, don’t indicate. Simple!
Use an indicator is essential (!!!) because if you don’t people will think – come on, you can guess it – yes, that you want to go straight ahead. If you then turn into the left exit and quickly pop on your left indicator – like you would in Europe – people will not be impressed. They’ve waited for you…in vain!!!
Now, if you can think of any other cause for my dad’s anxieties please tell me. TELL ME. It’ll be great to deflate his preconceptions and actually be able to split the driving between three people, not two. I’d appreciate your thoughts!