Jun 25, 2020

Tips for Driving on the Right Hand Side of the Road

Ideal for Visitors From Great Britain, Ireland, or Australia to Los Angeles.

Perhaps you have never driven on the “wrong” side of the road before. When I lived in Motherwell, Scotland, I almost crashed a brand new British Sterling in a head-on collision. So I wrote this for all you Brits who want to make it back home in one piece. Besides having few roundabouts, and no "railways," the City of Angels is a devil of a place to Holiday.

As a British left-side hand side driver, your years of experience driving on the wrong side of the road were hammered into you by everyone:

  • Parents.
  • Road instructors
  • School teachers.
  • Bobbies.
  • Driving tests.

However, there is a strong chance that you will travel to a place where the opposite is true. Nations that used to be part of the British Empire (except for Canada) drive on the left side of the road. These include the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, and Australia. And while your passport may not be stamped yet, it’s better to be prepared for when that day comes.

Understanding from a Legal Perspective.

As a longtime personal injury attorney, I think I have seen just about everything. And most of the time, if someone is driving on the left-hand side of the road in Los Angeles, for example, it is because they are doing something wrong. However, many of my clients have traveled overseas and can't resist the opportunity to get behind the wheel in another country, and vice versa. If that sounds like something that you are going to be doing, it is best to be prepared.

Breaking the Habit of Driving on the Other Side of the Road.

Your long-time aversion to driving on the other side of the road is with good cause. Thousands of hours behind the wheel driving on the right-hand side of the road is essential for your safety. Shutting that part off that left side driver part of your brain is not easy. But, we are here to help. Below we will see several ideas on how to make the transition easier.

Understanding How.

  • Spend your time getting used to the new car. In cases like this, you have two challenges. Not only are you preparing to drive on the other side of the road, but you are also driving an entirely new car. It takes time to get used to any new car, especially a rental. By taking it easy, especially the first day it will be much easier for you to understand the Dynamics of driving in this new environment. It is also important not to rush. The landmarks will still be there whether or not you decide to drive excessive hours that day. The more time you give yourself preparing, the easier the transition will be. This goes double for time behind the wheel.
  • Study the rules and laws of the country. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the particular rules and laws of the country you are going to. Just because some traffic laws are mandatory in your home state does not mean that it will be the same in another country. This goes double for concepts such as the right of way and turning. This is a needed concept.
  • Use an automatic transmission. This might be difficult for you on two accounts. Firstly, you may be used to driving a stick shift. Secondly, automatic transmissions are much rarer outside of the United States and Canada. Even getting one as a rental in a place like London, United Kingdom, or Los Angeles, California may be harder or more expensive. However, since all of your gear patterns and the clutch pedal is the opposite of what you were used to, you will take one more thing out of your worries by driving that type of car.

Keep Us Posted.

Make sure to prepare the car first. This has many elements. This includes checking your mirrors, adjusting your driving pattern, and getting used to having someone in the passenger seat. Every second taken understanding your new driving circumstances will pay dividends in the future.

The above is not an exhaustive list but hopefully a good primer in understanding the differences and driving between countries. Should you hop that flight and find yourself in these circumstances refer back to this website for more information on how to drive safer and avoid accidents.


Federal Highway Safety Administration, Wrong-Way Driving: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/other_topics/wwd/

California Department of Motor Vehicle, Vehicle Collisions: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/educational-materials/fast-facts/vehicle-collisions-ffdl-16/