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Old 8th January 2016, 00:07   #16
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

This is completely from my experience:
Most of the developed countries have automatics as a popular option, and while driving one, forget that you have a left leg, and keep your right leg on the accelerator and learn the context switch to brake pad from accelerator (You might use your left leg hunting for a clutch and brake really hard). Go easy on the brakes. You will feel uncomfortable not using left leg, so the best way is to use cruise control and relieve your right foot as well (but keep accelerator pedal in context, so that you can reference brake/accelerator when needed). Since lane disciplines are strict, turn your head to rule out blind spots while taking a turn are very critical. Other people have spoken of merging/yielding as well. Initially, you are alert and you will follow the traffic. Once you are comfortable with the car, The first mistake you might do (due to old habits kicking in) is drive into the wrong side of the road, especially at T-junction or crossroads. If confused, wait for traffic to be visible to get a sense of direction. Been there, wrongly done that .
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Old 8th January 2016, 08:55   #17
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

No issues with shifting from LHD to RHD. I have done that on numerous occasions. All the time, I hire a car at the airport and drive away. The very first time I tried it, there was a little hesitation, but once the car starts moving, you feel at home.
One issue though especially driving in US/Canada is the size of the car. THey are too big by Indian standards. Although its not an issue most of the times because roads, traffic, parking all are designed considering these sizes, but in case of reversing and parking in tight places, this could be an issue.

Another aspect I get worried about whilie driving abroad is the lane discipline. May be due to the size and speed of the car, but I find it very tiring to keep the car at the middle of the lane, maybe its just me.
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Old 8th January 2016, 09:54   #18
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Its a case of much ado about nothing, have been driving both extensively, sometimes within a space of a few hours. The trick that works for me is to just remind myself that its an LHD vehicle as soon as I sit inside. Take a moment to orient myself 'cause my instinct and subconscious mind is programmed for an RHD, in case of exigencies i still some times reach for the gear lever on my left when in an LHD. But taking a moment to orient yourself before you jump into the roads help immensely.
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Old 8th January 2016, 11:11   #19
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I would say it's not a big deal, just some mental preparation will do.
Yes, the very first time may be difficult but subsequently it should be quite easy. Take time to know & understand the local traffic rules, signs, etc and follow them, never ignore the signs, they really guide and help you when driving. Speed limits - always stick to speeds within the allowed limits and follow lane discipline, use slow and fast lanes appropriately, signal when changing lanes.
Use automatics the right way, don't use the left foot for the brake, results could be catastrophic!
Keep your mind alert and remember where you're driving (LHD/RHD) and you should be good.

Last edited by NPV : 8th January 2016 at 11:12.
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Old 8th January 2016, 11:44   #20
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I drove a LHD vehicle in USA, straight from the airport and never felt alien at all sitting on the other side holding the steering! As it was a automatic, things were even more easy.

On a recent trip to Casablanca, Morocco (travelogue pending!), drove a LHD Fiat Punto with manual transmission. Though I was little skeptical in getting adjusted to a manual LHD configuration, I was cruising doing triple digit speeds effortlessly on the wonderful Casablanca to Marakkech road (you can get a glimpse of it in bike chase scene from the movie Mission Impossible, Rogue Nation)!

I guess, more than the configuration, its the machine and the roads that really matter!!
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Old 8th January 2016, 13:39   #21
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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Originally Posted by vinodbollini View Post
One simple pointer works: no matter which side is the norm, the driver always sits toward the centre (or divider) of the road. That is also the direction of the higher speed lanes.
This is the rule I follow. Works always regardless of LHD or RHD. Apart from this, just get an overview of traffic laws and signs before taking the car for the first time. Else you will be nervous thinking what to do on seeing specific traffic signs, such as yield, bus lanes or even parking signs.

If at all the traffic cop pulls you over, stop the car when it is safe to do so, switch off the ignition, roll down the window and keep your both hands visible to the officer (preferably in steering wheel) and sit in the car itself. The cops will come to your car. Do not come out of the car to have a conversation with the cop unless they ask you to come out. If you open the door and come out, in most cases the cops will draw their weapon towards you.
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Old 8th January 2016, 14:22   #22
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

While a lot of people have already commented about the ease of driving LHD, I would say its marginally difficult and needs a little practice. Following are some of the instances wherein I was worried

a) Driving on a free way/autobahn and some other car tries joining the free way from an exit parallely. Its a natural Indian instinct to feel, he'll come right over in the lane and you reduce the speed by braking but the guy won't ever come on your lane. You in turn cause trouble to drivers behind you

b) Problems do not come at signals but junction (e.g. T junction) where there is NO signal and you are supposed to stop zero before commencing even if there is no one coming from either side. Again, the driver in me sees no one and almost tries making a mistake

c) Driving on a median free "empty road" when you just go into complacent/confident mode and reflexly start going towards left . Did it few times but luckily had trainer besides me.
Eyes on the road, follow the rules to the last word as others are dependent on you and your drive. No panicking is the key along with some practice.

Last edited by GTO : 9th January 2016 at 08:53. Reason: Typos
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Old 8th January 2016, 17:10   #23
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

When you say driving a LHD car, I also assume you will be driving in a country where the rules are better followed than in India.

There are two things to driving LHD:
  1. The actual driving part
  2. Following the rules and the lane discipline and all

Now, the driving part is well covered already and it gets down to getting used to it. But what I have noticed is that people tend to get overwhelmed because they are trying to learn the rules and follow them while also adjusting to the LHD part, and this causes a lot of problems.

A good idea would be to read up on the American or European (depending on where you are going) driving rule books. Make sure you know what all the road signs mean. Spend a decent amount of time reading through these books and mentally imagine driving the way it has been prescribed in these books.
Most rules come out of common sense and are very much applicable even in India. You could drive in India for a few days while trying to follow most of the rules and familiarize yourself with them.
This way, when you actually drive at your destination, one part will be solved already. Then all you need to worry about is the LHD part.

From personal experience I can tell you that it is not at all difficult. Just the first few hundred kms might be an issue, but then you'll get a hang of it.

Another piece of advice is to not directly drive into the downtown of a big city. Cause then it is very easy to be overwhelmed by all the signals, signs, traffic, pedestrians, etc. Drive on highways first and then semi urban and then get to urban scenarios.
(This is especially true for Europe, for the US things might be different cause their cities are not as congested I believe).

Also, make sure you read up on forums about the driving etiquette of various countries. In Europe, there is a big difference between how people drive in different countries. You can PM me if you want some help regarding this.

Last edited by jalsa777 : 8th January 2016 at 17:12.
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Old 8th January 2016, 17:42   #24
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
It's really not that difficult. Some people drive away straight from the airport. For those who might take a little time to get accustomed:

- Catch a cab from the airport, ride along with someone else for a couple of days and observe. Don't drive until you've 'adjusted'.

- If going to a LHD country, stick a post-it on the center console that reads 'STAY ON THE RIGHT'. Confusion occurs mainly at junctions & intersections. Turn onto the right side of the road .

On the positive side, after driving in India, it's very easy to drive in developed countries with disciplined traffic & road sense. In fact, after driving abroad for a long time, it might take you a little time to get used to our roads .
I agree with GTO. Its actually not that difficult to drive LHS cars. I drove them for 6 months in States recently and couple of observations:

1. People abroad usually keeps lot of distance between cars while driving. So keep extra distance and adjust yourself with left hand side driving.
2. Most of the cars are automatic, which might take some time to adjust, however once used to it, its actually very comfortable.
3. Driving LHS cars means driving on the opposite side of the road as well, so turning or moving left / right needs some extra care.

Lastly, it took me sometime to adjust driving back in India
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Old 8th January 2016, 18:15   #25
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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Originally Posted by jalsa777 View Post
(This is especially true for Europe, for the US things might be different cause their cities are not as congested I believe).
NYC, Chicago, Las Vegas - Super congested downtown traffic as I have experienced firsthand. Charlotte, Milwaukee - mediocre to bearable.
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Old 8th January 2016, 18:34   #26
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

While quite a few friends seem to have a problem adjusting to LHD & RHD, I never seemed to find it particularly difficult. It seems that people with good spatial awareness seem to have have less difficulty in adapting.

I was taught one golden rule; no matter which country you drive in, the driver's door side needs to be facing the centre of the road. Period.
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Old 8th January 2016, 21:05   #27
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinodbollini View Post
Actually left foot braking does not come that easily and a bigger problem is the shock of the missing clutch.
While I think you're saying donít use the left leg, I was confused for a bit and thought I should highlight this point.

In automatics you do not use the left leg at all. Just the right leg - for accelerator or brake.

I've been able to drive on the left with no problems, even with my right hand drive car. Although there has been this one time when I had to control my urge to drive on the left on a single lane road - realised just in time! Phew!
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Old 9th January 2016, 01:42   #28
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post

1) How do you get prepared for this?

2) And have you had any mistakes. e.g. Moving from a manual to automatic sometimes I feel people may have inadvertently used the left leg for braking and had a harsh braking.

3) Any pointers for first timers?
Quite a relevant question actually. This is what I have done long time ago :

Learnt the traffic rules and road signs of US via DMV manuals available online. Almost all other countries' traffic rules are quite similar. learnt that yield is a serious matter.

When I landed in US, I took to the front seat of the Taxi just to observe. Key is to observe and co-relate with the prior learnings. But of course, true learning is only by own experience.

Within day3, I rented a car and drove around. Did make the obvious RHD-LHD mistakes..went to the opposite side of the road in turnings etc. but I learned from that to be conscious. thereon, it has never been an issue in any country. Still on mistakes, abiding to stop signs and rules of yielding in a traffic-light-less intersection is a matter of time thing. of course I had read it in DMV manual but learnt it experience.

This is where most of my alignment to LHD was. transmission wasn't an issue since it was an automatic all the time. I only had to learn to fold my left leg away from action.

It was another matter altogether in Europe where it is mostly manual transmission cars. here it was mostly instinctive that I took to stick shift in a LHD car quite easily. Sub conscious mind has made me hunt for the gear lever on my left but that was a rare few moments.

During my monthly UK visits, I take a Manual shift rental regularly. realized the LHD-RHD switch and back was not that big a deal.

Lesson learnt- it's a matter of sub conscious. However, never skip the lessons on road safety rules applicable in each country. RHD- LHD switch is easy to master but road safety rules are of critical importance.

One another thing is the 3 second rule. this is about the minimum braking distance to maintain b/w cars at any speed. see link below. Very important since most people consider tail gating an offence. it's considered tail gating when you are in dangerous braking distance (read very close) to the car in front.

http://www.nationwide.com/teen-drivi...g-distance.jsp

When you turn into another road, always take to the lane closest to the median and then merge to the right.

Lane closest to Median is always for passing. Pass vehicles and quickly rejoin right lane.

Last edited by GTO : 9th January 2016 at 08:50. Reason: Typo
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Old 11th January 2016, 13:30   #29
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
- Catch a cab from the airport, ride along with someone else for a couple of days and observe. Don't drive until you've 'adjusted'.
Agreed. In addition, for 'faster' adjustment - sit in the front seat than in the back seat. This makes you feel the traffic and rules slightly better. Also, this works for me: as you sit in the front seat, just observe things as if you are driving the car yourself - takes me max of about half an hour before I feel adjusted enough to drive on my own.

Additional tip: I am always extra alert when I drive outside India, for obvious reasons. Has worked so far, touch wood
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Old 11th January 2016, 18:33   #30
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
It's really not that difficult. Some people drive away straight from the airport. For those who might take a little time to get accustomed:

- Catch a cab from the airport, ride along with someone else for a couple of days and observe. Don't drive until you've 'adjusted'.

- If going to a LHD country, stick a post-it on the center console that reads 'STAY ON THE RIGHT'. Confusion occurs mainly at junctions & intersections. Turn onto the right side of the road .
Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
1) How do you get prepared for this?

2) And have you had any mistakes. e.g. Moving from a manual to automatic sometimes I feel people may have inadvertently used the left leg for braking and had a harsh braking.

3) Any pointers for first timers?
Well, I learnd on and spent around 15 years driving LHD cars (i.e., right side of the road), then (after brief visits elsewhere in Asia) came to India where I've spent nearly that long on RHD. Main trouble I experienced (others I've spoken with concur) is in judging distance from objects / curb / etc on the OPPOSITE front corner. Meaning the right front quarter area if you're driving a LHD vehicle, and vice-versa. Right perception and confidence comes with time and experience, though in places like North America, streets / roads / lanes / parking spots are generally quite wide with considerable margin for error (unless you're driving a Humvee).

Automatics are really nothing to be concerned about unless driving in hills where downshifting is important (to prevent overheating of brakes). Nothing can be easier than just putting the lever in "D" and pushing the accelerator. A couple decades ago after reading a book on superior driving technique, I had started using my left foot for braking when driving automatics - just gives a little edge in reaction times, since when driving through areas where you feel you MIGHT need to brake suddenly (crowded streets, intersections, etc), your left foot can be kept ready over (not on) the brake pedal, while still holding speed with the right foot on the accelerator, ready to lift it immediately if need be. But using the right foot for both as with a manual gearbox is no issue whatsoever.

As for mistakes, my biggest ones (driving on the wrong lane) have been after just having arrived in an "opposing" country, and being either on an empty street in town at night, or out in the countryside where there is no real visual frame of reference for clues (i.e., road signs or other vehicles to move along with). Done this quite amusingly in a few instances.

With a car (vs. a bike), just remember that YOU (with your steering wheel) ALWAYS NEED TO BE NEAR THE ROAD'S CENTER LINE, NOT AT ITS EDGE. RHD? Your body (and wheel) should be nearest the opposing lanes of traffic. LHD? Your body (and wheel) should STILL be nearest the opposing lanes of traffic (good for folks who can't remember their right from their left, much less read a note on the console while driving through a busy intersection). This works pretty well for initial mind-training, UNLESS 1) you're on a motorcycle (obviously; Had an 'interesting' experience on one once in rural Thailand, prior to my Indian relocation!), OR 2) you're driving a car in a place like the Bahamas, where they've got LHD American-origin vehicles, but by nature of being a former British colony, they drive on the LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! )!

Regards, good luck, and happy travels,
Eric

Last edited by ringoism : 11th January 2016 at 18:44.
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