Driving on the Left

Driving on the Left

When I travel I rent a car in almost every destination I go to at some point in my journey.  It gives me the freedom to take my own adventures and to see those off the beaten path towns and unspoiled natural beauty.  It also gives me the chance to go at my own pace and set my own schedule.

Most cities, especially those in Europe and Asia, having a car isn’t necessary, as they have robust public transportation systems.  But to visit places outside of cities, a car is required to get around.  This was the case when I was most recently in Ireland.  The unique part about driving in Ireland is that they drive on the other side of the road.  Which for some people makes them hesitant to drive and they miss out on some of the great adventures they might otherwise have.

When I went to Ireland, it wasn’t the first country I’d driven in where they drive on the left.  It wasn’t even the second or third country for me.  The first time I drove on the left side of the road was in 2016 when I was in Australia.  It was actually the first time I had experienced anywhere that drove on the other side of the road.

When I got to Australia I didn’t go straight from the airport to the rental car place.  I had spent a few days exploring the city of Melbourne first and was able to get used to the traffic being on the left and got some understanding of how traffic patterns worked.  This is something that I have found is not just helpful if you are going to drive in a country where you will be on the left but anywhere you go as each country has different rules written and unwritten.  I did this briefly when I was in Ireland as I spent an afternoon in Dublin taking taxis and buses before picking up a car the next day.

The first thing to remember when driving on the left is to get into the other side of the car.  It is a weird feeling at first.  The other thing that is weird is that while the gas and brake pedal are still used with the right foot, the turn signal is used with the right hand as opposed to the left.  This led me to several times hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal when I was first driving.  Luckily as I got more used to this, it became easier to remember to hit the turn signal with my right hand.

Another thing that takes some getting used to is the spacial awareness.  Most of the car is to the left when usually it is to the right.  This is not all that different that getting used to driving in a different sized car.  Like going from a sports car to a pickup truck.  Once I drove for a little bit the first time it felt fairly normal to have more of the car on my left.

The point I had to pay most attention to was making turns and ensuring I was turning into the correct lane.  This is, at least in my opinion, the most difficult part of driving on the other side of the road.  When there are other cars on the road it it easier to look up and follow then.  It is when there are no other cars around that I have found where I had to remember most to stay to the left.  But again after driving for about a day or so this becomes second nature and doesn’t require as much thought process.

The highways in other countries that drive on the left work much the same as those that drive on the right.  Everything is just switched.  On and off ramps are to the left instead of the right.  And the passing lane is the far right lane instead of the left.  In Ireland the lane rules are especially followed by the drivers there which does make for smoother traffic flow.

All in all driving on the left is not something anyone should be scared about or avoid.  It is easier to pick up and get used to than you might think.  Next time if you are traveling to a country that drives on the other side of the road.  Don’t waver about driving.  Go for it and rent that car!

And if you want any more tips or advise I’m always available to help.

One comment on “Driving on the Left

  1. Chris Vevea on

    You are correct! It was a good read and I agree the turns were the hardest. Second, was the narrow bridges and judging when two cars could pass or not.


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