Driving on the "wrong" side.

Based on this http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=8827961#post8827961 thread, have you lived/driven in a country where you had to learn to drive on the opposite side of the roadway?
In the mid 70’s I lived in Bermuda for three years. On the Navy base, the U.S. rule applied, drive on the right. Off base it was British rule, drive left.
For the first two years I lived off base and drove a U.S. manufactured Datsun, B-210, right hand drive. It didn’t take me, or my wife, much time at all to become accustomed to this. The only thing I had a bit of difficulty w/ were the roundabouts, I had to really concentrate to remember to go to the left. Same w/ crossing the street, while walking. I often looked the wrong way before stepping off the curb.
During my final year, we moved into quarters on base and I acquired a second car. Ironically it was a right hand drive and, because of local laws, was limited to operation on the military base. Then I was driving a right hand drive car, on base, w/ U.S., keep right, rules and a left hand drive car off base, w/ British, keep left, rules. Sounds confusing, but it really wasn’t a problem, except for those damn roundabouts.
How about you, ever had a similar experience?

I don’t drive much in Thailand, don’t even bother to own a car here, but when I do drive, I have no problem keeping to the left. And I have no problem driving on the right whwenever I’m back in the US, seldom as it is these days.

I rented a car in Ireland and I found driving on the left to not be any trouble at all - to me it was similar to being on a 4 lane highway and staying in the left lane the entire time, except the cars in the right lane are going the opposite direction. It took some extra thought at roundabouts/intersections, but it wasn’t hard.

The only weird part for me was i always felt I was getting too close to things with the left side of the car - mirrors of parked cars, hedges, trees…but I never clipped anything. It was just a weird feeling. That may have been because Irish roads are so narrow.

I go to the US Virgin Islands fairly frequently where the rule is to drive on the left and many roads are small and rather remote. I scared myself and my family one night when I realized that I had been driving on the “wrong” side of a two lane windy road coming back home for 5 minutes or so. None of us noticed but it could resulted in disaster and has for many tourists. I find that I have to always pay attention there and question the basics at all times. Some maneuvers are so built in that you can revert back to them so instinctively that it the same as the law of gravity changing.

People drive on the left in Indonesia and I have a really really hard time driving on the left so I don’t drive here.

I drove myself when I lived in Thailand, and it wasn’t a big deal. At least I’d say the driving on the wrong side of the road was pretty low on the differences to worry about, crazy drivers and horrid traffic were the worst. It probably helped that my car in Thailand was a Honda Accord with an automatic, whereas I’d previously and subsequently always driven a manual transmission.

I vacationed to England about a year ago, and for the first time got to experience driving on the left…

We stayed with friends, and for logistical reasons really couldn’t pick up our rental car until our third day there. In retrospect, this was wise, because riding around as a passenger for a short time really helped give me a feel for what some of the unfamiliar road signs and markings meant, and some idea how traffic flow works there.

I never had trouble staying on the left side of the road. I did find myself reversing right and left when describing maneuvers: Turning across oncoming traffic? That’s left, er, right. Dammit! “Left” is bound more tightly to cross-traffic turns than to the absolute direction in my mind, it seems - similar for “right.”

I kept whacking the door with my right hand reaching for the shifter knob. I was still doing this from time to time after a week.

Only once (late in our stay, at that) did I walk up to the car and absently sit down in the passenger seat (left side) before remembering where I was.

Roundabouts weren’t much trouble at all. I quite liked them, in fact.

The single most awkward-feeling maneuver I pulled was pretty mundane. We were on a two-lane road in a town, and I needed to turn right into a parking lot. As I was turning, I had a moment of panic - I’m turning right from the left lane! That’s a recipe for a wreck in the US, and I could imagine that we were turning directly across the path of car travelling the same way we were. Most other things felt quite natural, but that one instance really gave me the willies. Odd, I thought…

I had a blast. Most things were easy, and the things that did prove challenging weren’t what I’d have guessed.

I did a quick drive from the UK to Austria and back once, it was fun, the 2 english guys with me didn’t want to drive in europe, but did the UK driving (the car was one of the guys mother’s Seat). I was a bit worried coming off the ferry, but just followed another uk car until we figured out where we were going. As I couldn’t transit France, we had to take the long way too.

Then I bought a car in the US and travelled for 3 months. Twice, leaving a campground and turning right, I went into the left lane, but twigged straight away. This trip I was on my own, having a co-driver is a big help.

Then on my return to NZ, I was ok for 2 weeks, then one day I found myself happily driving on the wrong side of the road about 100m after visiting my Nan. :smack:

Here, fairly regularly, tourists get into crashes by driving on the wrong side. I remember in the UK arrows painted on the road to remind drivers to keep left, we could do with that before brows of hills, and after tourist stops. As traffic is often light, there often isn’t the opportunity to view other cars going past and being reminded to keep left.

A particular problem in NZ is one-lane bridges (especially in rural areas of the South Island). Tourists tend to depart these on the wrong side of the road. During my most recent visit I noticed that most of these now feature arrows on the pavement to help with this problem.

I did a two week driving vacation in NZ.
Luckily, my plane landed early Sunday morning, and the very first thing on my itenerary was a three hour long highway drive. I learned quickly.

By the end of day the day, the only problems were accidentally turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal, walking back to the car and automatically going to the passenger’s side instead of the driver’s side, and a tendency to go to the left side of the road. (I think, when driving, I position myself at about 1/3rd of the way on the left of the lane. When I’m on the right side of the car, that tends to run the car off the left side of the road)

I never did look the right way before crossing the street. And I only tried parallel parking once. It wasn’t pretty.

I grew up in Australia, driving on the left, but now live in the Middle East and drive on the right. It took me about 6 months living here before I felt confident enough to drive here (particularly as adherence to road rules can be a little lax - “Indicator? What indicator???”).

No real problem with the changeover, although I did get some bruises on my left hand whenever I went to change gears! I find I have more problems now going home to Australia and trying to drive on the left!

Getting used to driving on the left in Japan wasn’t really a problem. I was nervous, but I think because I was always thinking about it, I didn’t make any bad mistakes. When I came back to the States, however, I found myself getting confused over which side of the road I was supposed to be on.

This is definitely the hardest thing to get right.

I did have another odd experience. In the early 60’s I spent 18 months on the Midway Islands. There were no private motor vehicles, only bicycles for personal transportation. There were military vehicles, but the island is so small that they would run for weeks w/o gassing up.
When I returned to the states I landed in S.F. and rented a car to drive to L.A. I’m motoring down the coast, getting used to going 60 mph again, when the car suddenly stops running. I totally forgot that you have to put gas in the tank every few hundred miles.

What did you find challenging?

Spent 6 months in Perth, WA in college. It was no big deal for me to make the switch, except for the clutch - see, I’d figgered that the clutch pattern should also be mirrored so that 1st gear would still be the closest to me. I had it all planned that first gear would (generally) be top right in Aussie cars, just like it’s in the top left (generally) for American cars.

Nope. It’s not that way at all. It’s the same pattern we have in the States. So I spent a bit of time screwing up my shifts.

Other than that, my big surprise was them giving me a manual for my first rental. I’ve driven a clutch for years, but was hoping for an automatic to ease myself into it, as it were. Nope, my first big driving experience on the “wrong” side of the road I get to use a manual, right out of the gates. Ah well - trial by fire.

It helps that Aussie roads are quite similar to those in the States - pretty wide and well-marked (well, excepting those in Tasmania, maybe). Even with my experience, I’m still not certain I’d want to take on some of those narrow bastards in the UK.

It’s tricky because all the rental cars still have the driver on the left-hand side of the car. If the driver was on the right, it’d be easier to remind yourself of the mental adjustment necessary. The one time we were there, I never forgot and drove on the wrong side, but that was because it was something that was constantly occupying 95% of my brain power every second I was behind the wheel.

Why on the name of Og don’t they either switch to driving on the right (to match the cars) or update the cars with RH controls (to match the driving rule)?

If I ever go there, I’m renting a motorcycle.

Went to South Africa here. Really had no issue, even shifting was a breeze after a little practice, but once I did have a blonde moment and almost started going down the right hand side when pulling out of a side street.

When I first traveled from the U.S. to Scotland and rented a car, I had no problem with driving on the left, sitting on the right, or making turns. Two things threw me:

  • Going the “wrong” way around the roundabouts

  • Shifting with my left hand and having the shift pattern “backwards” (first gear was no longer the one closest to my body).

It took me about a week to adjust