How to Drive Your Hire Car on the “Wrong” Side of the Road
Driving on the “wrong” side of the road is an extra thrill/headache for any motorist crossing the divide between countries including the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and Japan and the rest of the world. If hugging the left/right side of the road is virtually hardwired into your brain at this stage, you may be somewhat daunted by the prospect of abandoning the habit of lifetime when you rent a car overseas, but you will adapt to it surprisingly quickly – especially if you follow these simple guidelines from Nova:
Driving on the opposite side of the road can leave you temporarily unable to distinguish right from left when following directions. You may find yourself instinctively turning right when your navigator tells you to turn left, for example, the result of years of taking a right turn across oncoming traffic. It may sound childish, but referring to left turns (in right-hand-side jurisdictions) as “big turns” and right turns as “little turns” can help. (Note: “Big turns” will refer to right turns in the U.K. and other left-hand-side jurisdictions).
Recognise the Risky Areas
One of the key places where you have to remind yourself to drive on the correct side of the road is at an intersection or junction with no traffic when you are turning to enter a street, or at the exit of a car park. You may also forget to look in both directions for oncoming traffic.
You should also be careful not to misjudge the middle of the lane by driving on the wrong side. This will come with practice.
Choose an Automatic Rental Car
Particularly if you have never driven on the opposite side of the road before, rent a car with an automatic transmission. You will find it much easier to focus on driving in the right place if you have fewer things to worry about – namely using the gear stick with the “wrong” hand.
Aim for the Centre
When all else fails, bear in mind that the driver should be in the middle of the road. In other words, if you are driving on the left-hand side of the road, the driver should be on the right-hand side of the car. It sounds obvious, but this nugget can prove surprisingly helpful.
Make life easier for yourself and pick up your rental car from an airport location, where you will almost always start your journey on a motorway or freeway, which is likely to be relatively open and straight, with fewer opportunities for mistakes. Hiring a car at a city centre location means you will have to negotiate oncoming traffic, numerous intersections, traffic jams full of impatient drivers, and other unwelcome challenges.