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Old 11th January 2016, 21:01   #31
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

First time in my life I went from India to a LHD country, I was 11 years old, and was in Canada over my summer holidays. Obviously, I did not drive, but made a mistake as a pedestrian by looking the "wrong" way while crossing the road and got hit by a car. Car driver came out to check on me - I was winded and had a few superficial bruises - but I was all the time expecting a earful for not looking both ways, and for the longest of time puzzled as to why the car driver did not scold me!

As an adult, first few weeks in the USA, I rode shotgun. When I finally took the wheel, it felt really weird for the first few miles, and then it all started falling in place. These first few miles were all on suburban streets thankfully, which were more or less empty.

After a month, driving on the right side of the road became instinct.

I find driving on multi-lanes highways easier than driving on smaller roads during the first few days of acclimatization. I have, on occasion, gone on to the wrong side of the road but this is because I was expecting US roads to be as narrow as Bangalore roads. I would mistake the divider to be the footpath and land up facing the wrong way in the fast lane.

So, no problems now driving and adjusting to LHD-RHD. However, I still frequently have issues crossing the road as a pedestrian
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Old 11th January 2016, 23:20   #32
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I always follow a simple rule of thumb - driver is always at the centre of the road. No need to think about right or left side driving and stuff like that.

In fact, a wizened old man who taught me driving, and who has never stepped out of Madras, gave me that tip. It has served me well so far.

Shyam
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Old 12th January 2016, 10:13   #33
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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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:
Last year I drove rental cars extensively in Europe for 10 days. Initially, i had my fears, but it doesnt get long to get used to.

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- 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'.
This is exactly what i did. Got out of the airport and asked the cabbie to take me around city for half an hour and I sat in the front seat alongside him. He dropped me off at the car pickup location.

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- 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 .
Though i did not use a post-it, but i am sure it will be useful. On the intersections, I used to follow other cars.

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
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 .
Exactly! When I came back, i was kind of taken aback by the mess here and the constant honking
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Old 13th January 2016, 12:18   #34
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I've found a GPS helps in that it points you the correct way when entering a roundabout for example. For me the most difficult things were to ensure adequate clearance on the right side of the car so as not to clip the mirror or ride the kerb, and to remember to "look left first" when entering a junction or pulling into a street. Other than that it's not that hard, and made easier by the fact that other drivers are more law-abiding than back home.
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Old 14th January 2016, 11:37   #35
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I shifted from driving in Chennai for 15+ years to Dubai 4 months back.
I am currently into Driving classes in an automatic car to obtain a UAE license.

Following things still bother me even after 10 classes (each class is 30 mins):
- exiting roundabouts
- movement of left leg searching for the clutch
- right hand moving towards the gear box
- searching for seat belts on the right
- reversing is still not comfortable as the head moves to the right to look back
- Changing lanes on free ways where the speed limit is 120+

All i need to do now is to unlearn what i did back in Chennai and learn afresh. Not a difficult task but old habits refuses to let go.
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Old 17th January 2016, 18:29   #36
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I remember having put up similar query in 2010 while I was about to relocate to middle east.

I have been in the ME for almost 6 yrs now and have driven in Oman / Dubai / AD / Sharjah and Bahrain. Few pointers based on my experience below. These observations are not on how to drive a left hand car, but how to drive a car on the right side of the road (left hand drive, right side of the road).

1) Always remember to keep on right side of the road. Initial few days, always move to the extreme right lane quickly (which is generally the slower lane).
2) Always over take from LEFT side only.
3) Enter roundabout and keep left unless turning right OR straight and exit roundabout through the extreme left lane.
4) If driving on expressways with 3+ lanes, dont drive on the extreme left lane, which is meant for over taking only. Keep 2nd left or middle lane unless overtaking.
5) Maintain the right speeds, dont over OR under speed. Generally, the speeds on 3 lane roads within city will be 80-100 kmph and outside city limits would be 120+. So maintain your optimal speeds and use cruise control for better control.
6) Dont drive or park in the extreme last lanes generally meant for emergency vehicles.
7) While overtaking large container trucks on the expressways, be wary of the massive air being displaced by these vehicles doing 100+kmph. You will feel sudden jerk or lateral movement while overtaking which can be un-nerving at times. On a light car, you will feel like loosing control and flying off the road.
8) Understand all road signals before driving. For eg: in Oman, Camel crossing has to be given top priority while driving through desert or village roads. Any injury or otherwise to the animals can lead you to lots of trouble. So understanding local culture/rules and regulations is necessary before driving in unknown countries.
9) Dont tailgate, maintain atleast 1 car distance between your car and car ahead of you. You will need more braking distance at higher speeds.
10) General rule - carry all documents necessary.
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Old 25th January 2016, 04:46   #37
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

It took me 4 weeks after reaching the US to not get shocked upon seeing vehicles driving on the Right hand side. After that everything was fine.

I even cleared my road-test on my first attempt. Very few people (all races included) get their DL with their first attempt from the DMV that I went to.

The troubles started slowly. When I am absent-minded or perturbed by something, that's when things began to go wrong:
1) My wife was telling me something about the high breakage-fees charged by the leasing office of the apartment we were about to vacate. I was at a 4-way Stop when she told me this. I was so upset that I failed to follow the Stop-sign rules and ended up nearly causing an accident. But I guess even anyone born and bred in the US could make such an error when stressed out...
2) I was approaching a "Yield" left signal in a small town road. There was a steady stream of cars from the other side. Normally I would have waited till the coast was clear and would have then cut across - as part of the cardinal "yield-left-turn" rule. Yet somehow seeing all those cars flowing freely from the opposite side caused a fleeting flashback in my mind. I used to get so angry that vehicles back in India would deny me my right of way by still getting into my way from the other side when I had my green "turn" signal. I am sure every Indian driver has faced these moments. So there I was - in a fit of anger I cut across the stream of oncoming cars. A scared Subaru Outback driver in his 20s gawked at me for a moment while I cleared the intersection at 40mph. Our cars could have hit head-on if I had been a bit slower. I even flashed him an angry hand gesture. It took me a while to realize that it was my mistake. My wife was left speechless. I immediately began sweating profusely and looked into my mirrors to check if anyone had called a cop on me. But we got home in our car, not in a cruiser with blue and red lights on top.

Moreover, I have seen a few Indian friends commit the blunder of driving on the wrong side after negotiating an intersection. They were all either absent-minded or disturbed momentarily by kids in the back-seat.

So this is my hypothesis - cultivate a sense of self-awareness to know when you enter a disturbed or absent-minded state. That is when the desi driver in you comes out with guns blazing.
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Old 25th January 2016, 05:17   #38
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Having just attempted an LHD manual in Ecuador recently my experience is that the driving itself is less tricky than I anticipated - it took me very little time to adjust to the mirror-image drivers seat and luckily the gears work the same. Driving on the road was also not as bad as I thought - I spent a lot of time on the slow (right-most) lane till I got confidence to go faster and overtake - though a reluctance of being near the divider persisted. I believe driving in India can work for and against - on the positive it ensures we anticipate a lot more but conversely we expect others will be like us.

What I did find complicated was approaching a junction like this and figuring out which was the appropriate direction to turn for an exit.

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I had to literally memorise the turning beforehand and draw a stick figure on paper for help. Even figuring out the way to turn for smaller junctions was a bit daunting - there was a tendency to switch lanes abruptly which I had to consciously curtail, often slowing down in my own lane rather than risking a chancy change.
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Old 25th January 2016, 12:02   #39
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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Originally Posted by Kumar R View Post
What I did find complicated was approaching a junction like this and figuring out which was the appropriate direction to turn for an exit.
Using Navigation (GPS or Google Maps) really helps in such situations since most of them tell you exactly which lane (in 3D animation) you should be in when you approach an exit.
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Old 26th January 2016, 15:10   #40
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Some of my lessons learnt are as follows. These are not specifically linked to the LHD Vs RHD topic but what I had to learn / unlearn as a first time driver from India driving in a LHD country. As many members have mentioned, the physical act of driving a LHD car (gearlever, steering position changes etc) is not the difficult part for most (experinced) drivers. My challenges were...

1. Paying attention to bicycles and pedestrians. I have to apologize for the generalization but in India most folks behind the wheel treat these two category of road users as obstacles and have no clue (or intention) regarding 'right of way'.

Most Zebra crossings in small German towns dont have traffic signals. And it felt strange, when I first started driving here, to come to a stop from 50 kmph to allow a pedestrian to cross. Strange - in the sense that my driving brain did not even register some of the zebra crossing. And the fact that one has to allow a gap of atleast 1.5 Meters (sideways) while overtaking a bicycle. And on narrow country roads this means driving behind a bicycle until the opposite lane is clear from traffic and then going past. I couldnt even wrap my head around this concept at first !

2. Distance to the car in front. In India this can vary from 5 to 10 inches in traffic and perhaps 5 - 10 meters on the highway. The safe distance to maintain at 100kmph is 25 meters. Or simply follow the '3 second rule' which works at all speeds

3. Reading road signs. This is something alien to the driving culture in India. So one needs to (a) get aquainted to traffic signs and what they mean (b) be attentive to signs while driving

4. Getting distracted by the GPS : While GPS is a life saver, it can be deadly especially if one tries to change settings while driving.

5. Checking side/rear view mirrors frequently. Again a habit that is seldom followed by drivers in India. Knowing whats behind you is almost as critical as knowing whats in front. That said it isnt recommended to take your eyes of the road for more than a fraction of a second for a quick mirror check. One needs to practise this fine art. Is a life saver when changing lanes (to overtake) on highways.

Talking on the phone while driving is a traffic offense anyways but indulging in this exercise while driving in a new environement is a recepie for disaster. Our 'muscle memory' takes over when our brain is distracted and thats when we fail to recognize pedestrians, road signs, minimum distances, speed limits etc

Last edited by Zed : 26th January 2016 at 15:13.
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Old 26th January 2016, 16:36   #41
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

The only problem I face when switching from RHD to LHD and back is the turn signal. I keep hitting the wiper stalk instead of the turn signal stalk. This can be very disconcerting when you are trying to make a turn, or switch lanes, and the wiper comes on instead of the signal. I had to make a conscious effort to tell myself "sdignal on left/right".

After a day or so one gets used to it.
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Old 27th January 2016, 19:19   #42
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I drove my first LHD car last month. I and some of my friends hired a car from Hertz and drove from Gothenburg to Oslo. I didn't have any problems adjusting to it and neither did my friends have any. We had a navigator on the front seat whose responsibility was to keep reminding the driver of the following:

1) Stop if any pedestrian is using the zebra crossing.
2) Yield to the vehicle coming from the left in a junction/round about.
3) Maintain the speed limit.

We had some scare with the point 2 at times as we had no prior habit of doing this in back home.

Quote:
Obviously, I did not drive, but made a mistake as a pedestrian by looking the "wrong" way while crossing the road and got hit by a car.
We had the same problem at first when we had arrived here. Involuntarily we used to look towards to our right we crossed the road. Thankfully, people stop if you are using the zebra crossing, hence we didn't have any problems.
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Old 31st January 2016, 17:36   #43
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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Originally Posted by benu9714 View Post
The only problem I face when switching from RHD to LHD and back is the turn signal. I keep hitting the wiper stalk instead of the turn signal stalk. This can be very disconcerting when you are trying to make a turn, or switch lanes, and the wiper comes on instead of the signal. After a day or so one gets used to it.
I too had that happen a lot when I started in four-wheelers (vs. two-wheelers) in India. I was a little slower than your figure in getting used to it, too (esp. as my driving was more occasional back then). I will probably have trouble again when I go back to my LHD nation of origin (not been back in five years).

-Eric
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Old 31st January 2016, 17:45   #44
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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2. Distance to the car in front. In India this can vary from 5 to 10 inches in traffic and perhaps 5 - 10 meters on the highway. The safe distance to maintain at 100kmph is 25 meters. Or simply follow the '3 second rule' which works at all speeds
25meters at 100kmph sounds WAY TOO CLOSE (and it is)!!!

Had to check this:
100kmph = 1,00,000m/h; divide by 60min, divide by 60sec = 27meters per second;

SO, the three-second rule puts you at 27x3= 81 meters as the correct safe following distance at 100kmph.

Should be noted that if you're driving in rain / snow, the number of seconds (as measured by the time between the car in front of you passing any given object/landmark, and your own car's passing it) must be increased considerably.

And please do correct me if my math is wrong, I'm terrible at it.

-Eric
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Old 31st January 2016, 20:19   #45
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Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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Originally Posted by benu9714 View Post
The only problem I face when switching from RHD to LHD and back is the turn signal. I keep hitting the wiper stalk instead of the turn signal stalk. This can be very disconcerting when you are trying to make a turn, or switch lanes, and the wiper comes on instead of the signal. I had to make a conscious effort to tell myself "sdignal on left/right".
Some cars in India used to come with the LHD stalks (Corsa, and I think the early NE118's for sure). Thanks for the ubiquitous M800 stalks, the NE118 picked these up. As for the Corsa they continued till the end (or near it).
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