Go Back   Team-BHP > BHP Worldwide > The International Automotive Scene


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 6th January 2016, 19:58   #1
BHPian
 
laxmanrk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 130
Thanked: 58 Times
Default Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Hi Team-BHPians,

In today's day and age where many of us travel a lot (for work and pleasure) I am sure many of you might have had to drive LHD and RHD that too sometimes within 24~48 hours.

My broad queries are:

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?

Query to Mod: I guess passing the exam/ Driving test queries would require threads for themselves country wise maybe? Don't know should we include here?

TBHP members are quite welcome to add more queries to this and get some insightful answers from the experienced members of the forum.

Last edited by GTO : 7th January 2016 at 09:37. Reason: Typo
laxmanrk is offline   (5) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 09:37   #2
GTO
Team-BHP Support
 
GTO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 47,763
Thanked: 89,526 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

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 .
GTO is offline   (23) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 09:47   #3
Distinguished - BHPian
 
libranof1987's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: All over!
Posts: 3,744
Thanked: 2,877 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

At least from personal experience, I can say that it isn't that difficult. It's more in the mind I believe; some people tend to get overwhelmed by LHD and all the discipline and end up getting nervous.

If you have your basics right (what side of the road you drive on, lane changes and managing speed), you're all set. Spend a good amount of time knowing the rules; after you give it time, they're crystal clear.

But as GTO said, do spend some time acclimatizing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
2) And have you had any mistakes
I've banged my left hand a few times on the door; while mentally preparing to change gears :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
3) Any pointers for first timers?
Discipline is non-negotiable, at least in the US. They will not entertain the fact that you may be new, or still getting used to and so on. A mistake is ultimately a mistake; however, honest or deliberate. So, be on the right side of the law and own up any mistake. Don't pull the "thoda adjust kar lo".

All said and done, you'll be fine

Last edited by libranof1987 : 7th January 2016 at 10:04.
libranof1987 is offline   (4) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 10:00   #4
Distinguished - BHPian
 
Rajeevraj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,263
Thanked: 8,058 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Getting used to the LHD part is easy in my opinion. I drove for the first time in US when I visited couple of years back. I had a colleague who had a lot of experience driving there. He gave tips and I sat alongside for a couple of days. when I got behind the wheel, I thought the biggest worry would be the LHD part, but that turned out to be easy. Only when you are taking turns where there is minimal traffic, initially you need to be conscious, even that is not too much of a bother since more often than not, there will be cars in front of you.

The main challenge is to ensure discipline. If you are the kind of driver who whose natural driving instinct is to attempt to follow all rules and drive in a sane manner here in India, the discipline part is easy to get used to there. A person who drives in a chaotic manner here (cutting lanes, honking, tailgating too close etc...) may find it more difficult to curb that instinct there.

The other challenge is the rules. Some stuff like 'Yield on Green' are very specific to certain places. So apart from knowing all the general rules, the specific place/state variations should also be known. Since I had a person very familiar with all this to guide, it was quite easy.
Rajeevraj is offline   (4) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 10:31   #5
BHPian
 
gomzi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 783
Thanked: 125 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
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.
1) Driving an automatic is easy - just rest your left foot on the foot rest and forget about using it.

2) No mistakes yet (i've been in SF Bay Area now for a month), but atleast I took a while to get used to space judgement on the right side of the car - clipping the footpaths a few times.

3) The first few days here I do remember walking up to the incorrect side (Right side) of the car to drive off. I was also reaching over my right shoulder to fasten seatbelts much to the amusement of my wife

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post

3) Any pointers for first timers?
1) Spend some time to get acclimatized to the traffic. If you're a passenger in a vehicle, look at how the driver is driving. PS: I've seen that a lot of taxi drivers dont both much about rules except for stop signs & traffic lights. If you get one like that, don't use him/her as a role model.

2) Read the drivers handbook for where you're travelling! All state DMVs in USA have a drivers handbook which lists the rules. It also lists the road signs such as Yield & the Right Of Way rules. There might be equivalent information available for other countries you're travelling to.

3) Confusion happens mostly at intersections and lights. Stick to the right. Tape a note/follow other cars etc as others have mentioned.

4) Practice with someone who's been driving at your location for some time sitting beside you for guidance.

5) If #4 is not possible, practice during non-peak traffic and areas without much traffic, and follow whatever traffic is there on the road to acclimatize - just don't keep following the same car.

Here's what I did to acclimatize after coming to US after a gap of 5 yrs:-
1) I took a taxi from airport to hotel and just got used to looking out for the signs and traffic moving on the right side of the road. PS: The taxi driver was driving horribly.

2) Rented a car from hertz near my hotel on a saturday afternoon (day after I arrived here) and just carefully drove around. I did get my share of honks for slow driving, but I ensured that i'm not holding up traffic too much.

3) Re-read the rules before I landed. especially around right of way. This still confuses me at a 4 way intersection.

4) Just keep a safe speed appropriate gap to vehicles ahead of you. Atleast in SF Bay Area, traffic can go from 60 - 0 mph really quickly - even in the fast lane.
gomzi is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 11:02   #6
BHPian
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 32
Thanked: 57 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
Hi Team-BHPians,
1) How do you get prepared for this?
One low cost, low risk method is to prepare using a gaming console, use the interior views in NFS or Forza Motorsport. If you can get a steering wheel and pedals, even better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
Hi Team-BHPians,
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.
Actually left foot braking does not come that easily and a bigger problem is the shock of the missing clutch. And also "1st gear and go" on the gear lever. Trying to keep your left leg folded differently at the knee helps somewhat. And keeping your right hand at the top of the steering: because you don't have to use the gear shifts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
Hi Team-BHPians,
3) Any pointers for first timers?
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. You can also keep a post-it that says divider or centre this side.
You will have a little trouble with the angles on the far side because of the trained geometry. You should set your mirrors so you the same amount of car, bottom inner part of the side mirrors should see the front handles briefly. You should also check blind spots more aggressively. And take a slightly wider curve on the turns than your instinct - stay within the lines still.
vinodbollini is offline   (6) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 11:55   #7
Senior - BHPian
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Ghaziabad
Posts: 1,007
Thanked: 760 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
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.
This nails it.
This is what I have used over the past decade. I also make sure that I remember, that the median will always be next to me irrespective of which side that I am driving on.
Yes it still leaves a bit of a challenge on roads without medians, but then I remember that my driving seat should never be towards the edge of the road.
roy_libran is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 14:00   #8
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 24
Thanked: 12 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Many excellent points quoted here by the bhpians.
Contrary to most of them here, I have learned and first driven in Europe, before driving in India. Yet, I have not faced so much problem when i started driving here. It was just a matter of time, probably a week or less that that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
3) Any pointers for first timers?
One point I would like to add is that during highway drives (for LHD), always remember to overtake from the left. This is because on highways with multiple lanes, it sometimes becomes confusing from which side to overtake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gomzi View Post
3) Re-read the rules before I landed. especially around right of way. This still confuses me at a 4 way intersection.
When arriving at a 4 way junction (again for LHD) without traffic signals, the traffic coming from right always has priority.
And when arriving at round-abouts, the traffic that is already inside the round-about lanes has priority. The symbol of inverted triangle means you have to wait, see and then enter the round-about.
makk is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 15:24   #9
Senior - BHPian
 
blackasta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Kolkata, WB
Posts: 2,777
Thanked: 959 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Reverse the RHD rules and you get LHD rules.
Be sure to read up laws of the land, because unlike India, a lot of developed countries actually follow all road rules.
As the laws are followed, driving in LHD countries (USA) is easy.

Last edited by GTO : 9th January 2016 at 08:41. Reason: No SMS language please
blackasta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 16:23   #10
BHPian
 
rejoycjohn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Bangalore / Calicut
Posts: 442
Thanked: 708 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
Hi Team-BHPians,

My broad queries are:

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?

Query to Mod: I guess passing the exam/ Driving test queries would require threads for themselves country wise maybe? Don't know should we include here?
Very good thread I suppose.
In one of my road trips with my friends, I was driving from UK in a RHD car through the channel tunnel into France. Unlike the ferry, we drove into the train that took us across the English channel and had to drive out immediately without having a break. The sudden transition was a bit hard and what I did was to follow a car in front of me for the first 10-15 minutes till my mind and body got used to the fact that you have to drive on the right side of the road.

Its quite alright until you negotiate a round about as the priority changes and you need to go in the opposite direction. Emerging into a main road also becomes tricky especially if its not a busy road. Your mind and body and even the car ( in this case I was driving a RHD car) encourages to make a mistake by driving on to the traffic.
Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa-421584_194006084066125_673855533_n.jpg

Junctions, Motorways , A roads etc are fine as long as you maintain the lane.

It was difficult everyday in the morning when we were starting the day's journey. So we wrote it on our steering - " Drive on the right side of the road".

Another instance happened in Sweden when I turned into a slip road from the motorway assuming it was a slip road to the motorway. It was my mistake as I followed the sat nav without paying attention to the surroundings. SatNav asked me to turn left and I turned left immediately without noticing the no-entry board.
I was lucky to see a car coming in the opposite direction and I realized my mistake and turned around on the slip road without causing an incident.

I guess the following can help if we are going to drive in LHD country.
- Try to stay as calm as possible, be never in a hurry. Its only going to worsen the situation
- Always watch the surroundings before making a decision even if your SatNav is asking you to do so.
- Drive around for a good couple of minutes before embarking on a journey and following a route. This will give you time to get used to the road and the new way of driving without having the pressure of following a route or time.

Driving tests, I guess its worth to have another thread.
rejoycjohn is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 17:06   #11
BHPian
 
anshumandun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 143
Thanked: 544 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

I traveled to US last month, picked up a car from the airport on landing and started driving. There were 2 things that helped me do this:

1. Past experience. I was in US in 2010 and had driven there for almost an year so I was aware of the rules.

2. I prepared for it before leaving for US. There are videos available on youtube with the camera on the dashboard and driving in cities and highways. I saw these videos on big TV screen, imagining myself driving the car and thinking of next moves on seeing a junction approaching. It helped me recall all the rules and made me confident.

That said, I would not advice someone going there for first time to rent a car from airport and start driving immediately. Since I had driven there before, it was relatively easy for me. My wife, who had not driven in US before, took 2 days sitting in the front seat and observing the traffic before she felt comfortable to get behind the steering.

So see some youtube videos before to get an idea of how driving works in other countries. If its your first time, sit in the front seat of cab/friend's car there and observe. It will not be difficult to drive in developed countries be it LHD or RHD.
anshumandun is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 17:50   #12
BHPian
 
MSAneesh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 88
Thanked: 57 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

Quote:
Originally Posted by laxmanrk View Post
Hi Team-BHPians,

3) Any pointers for first timers?
1) Driving LHD is not a major challenge, relax, and be always alert of the fact that you are driving LHD. I mean, don't get lost in thoughts, where your Indian driving instincts may take over.
2) Read the manual for the state. Certain rules for 'right of way' is different for different states. Even 'right turn on red' rules are different. I had honks from behind a few times waiting to turn right on red light at intersections, till I realized, it is allowed in Tennessee.
3) Drive early morning/ less crowded roads to get accustomed to. Avoid freeways till you are comfortable.
4) At least for initial days, be careful with the intersections and turns, especially left turn where you may tend to enter left side of the road due to Indian habits.
5)Plan your routes upfront. Also, make sure you have a GPS unit
6)Be alert while entering the freeways, you have to acquire the minimum speed (like 40- 45 MPH) on a 70 MPH freeway on the ramps, still watch out for vehicles already on the lane you are entering. You cannot stop and enter a freeway.
7) Remember - slow is not always safe!!
8) And 'middle finger never sticks' - Ignore and forget road ragers and aggressive drivers

Last edited by MSAneesh : 7th January 2016 at 17:52.
MSAneesh is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 18:04   #13
Distinguished - BHPian
 
sgiitk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Kanpur
Posts: 7,163
Thanked: 3,759 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

This is not any issue I have driven all four four combinations RHD in RHD, RHD in LHD, LHD in RHD and LHD in LHD. The main issue when you go from a RHD car to a LHD car is reversing, since there all your instincts are wrong. Otherwise rest is Ok. You follow the traffic flow. When driving from the UK into France (RHD car) one had to watch out till the first roundabout, then things just fell into place.
sgiitk is offline   (5) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 21:49   #14
BHPian
 
catchjyoti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Pune
Posts: 86
Thanked: 58 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

The one issue that I myself faced when I first drove in USA was trying to get into the freeway by going up the exit ramp. I realized it a quarter of the way into the ramp when I saw another car coming towards me after exiting the freeway. He slowed down and came to a dead stop. In a split second more I too realized my mistake and reversed out. And then took the correct ramp.

Even now while I was typing the above, I thought what a shock that guy would have got
catchjyoti is online now   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2016, 22:46   #15
BHPian
 
dreamliner17's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 80
Thanked: 71 Times
Default Re: Adjusting to LHD (left hand drive) & vice versa

The most tricky part is the round-about, intersections and other entry/exit ramps, as GTO and other members have mentioned. It is also good to know that the car/vehicle just 'on' the round about has the right of way and we are expected to slow down (sometimes even almost to a standstill!) as we approach the round about. Arriving at the round-about carrying a lot of speed intimidates and confuses the car/vehicle initiating a turn at the round about.

I personally had difficulty in driving in a straight line, and the car would tend to slightly drift on to the RHS. This is was also due to the super light steering wheel of our compact SUV which provided hardly any feedback of the road conditions. The higher driving speeds add to the 'lightness' of the steering and the people not used to it, might have quite a challenge. Also note that, if you have people sitting the car who are new to LHD road conditions, the co-driver is the first one to panic as he is not used to the car slowly tending to not maintain a straight line and drift to the RHS, unlike in India where we are absolutely 'accustomed' to driving in left lanes and overtaking. Believe me, it is one of the scariest feelings (as a co-driver) when you sit on the RHS of the driver and the car slowly begins to drift right! The simple reason being the driver and you are both NOT accustomed to switching places and the car drifting to the RHS, with the driver having slight knowledge about it!

Sticking post-its or other 'visual' signs greatly help, if you are mostly driving alone. I had instructed my friend (co-driver) to keep reminding me that i have to stick to the RHS of the road and to warn me if the car drifts too much on the RHS.

Having a manual geared vehicle actually helped me in getting accustomed to the car controls and road mannerisms faster. This makes your right hand stay active by working the gears and not stay idle. When in doubt or moments of confusion, i simply used to rest my right hand on the gear lever just to re-assure myself and get the 'feel' that i am driving a LHD car!

All nations having LHD do not drive alike. It greatly depends on the discipline, mentality and general attitude of the people in that state or region. Driving in Germany is different from driving in Switzerland, although they are neighboring countries and follow similar rules, its the mentality that the common people have over there! You might suddenly notice the traffic being well disciplined and after a few hours of driving, the people just going berserk, due to whatever reason!

Lastly, if you are generally an impatient driver in India and generally do NOT obey rules, it might be difficult to suddenly follow rules! Although we all get 'disciplined' when we travel abroad, changing your driving habit in a day or two does not happen! And the first thing we grab on the steering is the horn People who are generally 'sedate' drivers and make judicious use of the horn in India, might have a slight advantage

All these are my personal experiences, driving across Europe.

Last edited by dreamliner17 : 7th January 2016 at 22:48. Reason: typos
dreamliner17 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
My Left Hand Drive Fiat. Cyrus43 Post-War 803 4th April 2016 11:41
Top Gear drives a Formula Off-Roader (or Vice-Versa?) Scorcher 4x4 Vehicles 1 25th May 2010 20:08
Tata Safari Left Hand Drive Spotted. tush The Indian Car Scene 8 23rd June 2009 11:01
Left Hand Drive GreenHex The Indian Car Scene 41 25th May 2009 13:51
Left Hand Drive Tata Sierra..(sorry no pics) SRK Modifications & Accessories 19 31st January 2009 01:17


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 16:48.

Copyright 2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks