LHD vs RHD

Never having been there, I’m curious: What happens when you take your car on the Chunnel from the Brit side to the European side, where the cars are driven on the opposite side of the road?

Are there safety risks because people are used to driving on the other side?

You don’t drive through the chunnel, you drive your car onto a specialized train thingy (Eurotunnel Shuttle) on one end and off at the other. This happens on the correct side of the road for whichever side you are on.

Driving on the wrong side of the road is always a potential danger when in a country that does it backwards from what we’re used to.

The side the steering wheel is on isn’t all that important, as anyone who’s driven an old postal jeep or postal Subaru or one of those funny Japanese mini-trucks can attest.

In Sweden, before 1967 they drove on the left but most of their cars were left-hand drive because all the countries around them drove on the right. After the switch-over (which is an interesting story in and of itself), accidents slightly decreased because people were more careful getting used to driving on the other side, but in the long term there was no real difference in safety between LHD cars on the left and LHD cars on the right.

Read all about it in Wikipedia’s hard-hitting “Transport in Sweden” article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Sweden#Road_traffic

If the steering side isn’t that important to safety, wouldn’t it make sense for manufacturers to make only one sort of steering and save or R&D and plant tooling costs?

Well, “isn’t all that important” doesn’t mean it’s not important at all-- it’s still much nicer to have an appropriately sided steering wheel, but it’s not going to kill you to take a continental vacation in a RHD car.

because there are alot of things built for motorists driving on the “X” side of the car - drive throughs, post boxes, parking garage ticket things, etc.
and yes, a right-hand-drive car on a roadway where traffic drives on the right is sub-optimal. if you need to pass on a 2-lane highway, you’ve got vision problems to look for oncoming traffic, etc.

I switched very easily, didn’t seem like much of a big deal after about 10 minutes. After all everyone else is doing the same thing. If I were the only one on the road I might have strayed over once I turned to a side road.

IME the biggest problem is not switching, but switching back.

As others have said, you don’t actually drive through the channel tunnel (somehow, the “Chunnel” name never caught on, despite being an excellent abbreviation IMO. Perhaps we grew weary of it during the endless abortive attempts to build the bloody thing).
Instead, you are carefully directed on to the French highways at the other end, and you have no sudden sensation of driving on the other side. It’s only when you get out into France proper that you begin to appreciate that those crazy French actually drive on the right. But you soon get used to it, as long as there’s other traffic around to give you cues at interchanges and roundabouts and so on.

One of Benny Hill’s cleverest jokes:

Doing a comedy newscast, he announced that Britain would be changing to drive on the right. “Officials say the change will be made gradually.”:eek:

My father came back to the US after several years working in the UK and almost drove into an oncoming traffic lane, but he managed to reorient himself to driving on the right and eventually the habits returned to him.

Having driven both LHD and RHD on both sides of the road (as required by the country I was in, not just for fun!), I would say that there is definitely a significant advantage to being on the “correct” side of the vehicle in terms of day-to-day driving, but as long as you’re not stupid it’s not difficult to make the change over when you change countries. It’s easier to flip your brain to the other side of the road if you’re in the “correct” vehicle for that country, because everything is just reversed (inside and outside the vehicle), but it’s not hard to do in your normal vehicle either. I’m trying to think back… I can remember pulling out of a side road onto the wrong side of the road one time in Cuba, but other than that I’ve never had a problem adjusting.

Oh, and roundabouts take a little thought for the first one or two after changing over, too. But that’s it.

While others do not …

Auto accident in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

*On August 5, 1987, actor Matthew Broderick was in Northern Ireland, vacationing with actress Jennifer Grey, when their rented BMW veered into the wrong lane on a country road in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh and smashed head-on into a car driven by Anna Gallagher, 30.

She and her mother, Margaret Doherty, 63, died instantly.
*
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Broderick#Auto_accident_in_County_Fermanagh.2C_Northern_Ireland

There was a similar accident in England a few years ago. This concerned an American who was taking up a new post as a pastor at the American airbase in Lakenheath. He flew into Heathrow, rented a car and drove to Lakenheath. A few miles from the base he pulled into a filling station to ask directions. When he pulled out of the filling station he started driving on the wrong side of the road. This caused a National Express coach (bus) to veer off the road, resulting in the death of one passenger.

Recent thread, with lots of good info:

Any Difference Between Driving On The Left Or Right?