How to drive on the right side/left of the road when world travelling - watch the video!
Hi there smart drivers, Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about driving on the other side of the road.
Had a comment from Homer Sid, he was traveling from Australia to Los Angeles, California and wanted the 101 on driving on the opposite side of the road.
Yes, I drove coach for Greyhound in Australia when I lived there.
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Australia
And I did have one indiscretion of driving on the other side of the road, the wrong side of the road in Australia. Early in the morning, the bus left Parkes, New South Wales as you can see here on the map, early in the morning, I think it left at 5:15 am and in the winter time, yes it was still very dark.
So I come out of the gas station where we picked up the passengers, got loaded on the bus and I'm talkin' on the microphone giving the information about going down the road, what time we were going to be there, when we were going to have our break, the safety announcements and those types of things.
And a little bit of distracted driving going on for those of you who have talked on a phone and tried to drive you vehicle at the same time.
Made a left-hand turn out onto the highway to head south back to Melbourne and drove right over to the right-hand side of the road as I normally did because I drove tens of thousands of miles on the right side of the road and we're going down the road and I got it kicked up and I thought passengers were falling asleep and those types things.
And for those of you who've been to the Outback of New South Wales, you can see for a long distance across the flat.
Well I saw this truck comin' down the highway and I was like, eh, kind of odd. And we get a little bit closer, we're probably about five miles apart now, and I was like, eh, something's not right here.
And we got a couple of miles apart and I'm looking into the darkness, seeing this truck and I'm like that truck is on the wrong side of the road. And it was about a mile apart, we were about a mile apart when I finally realized that I'm the one on the wrong side of the road.
I wheeled the bus over to the left side of the road and carried on with the trip thinking that I had gotten away with it and none of the passengers had realized that I was driving on the wrong side of the road in Australia in the dark with a truck coming at us.
And we get down to the break and one of the passengers, couple of the passengers actually, a couple of young men, come up to me and said: "were you driving on the wrong side of the road this morning?"
And of course, being cheeky as I am I said to them: "No, I was driving on the right side of the road. I just needed to move over to the left side of the road."
So today we're going to talk to you about traveling to countries where they travel on the other side of the road and some of things you might wanna keep in mind if you're driving a car or riding a bicycle or walking around so that you can be safe.
Stick around, we'll be right back with that information.
[INTRO & UPBEAT MUSIC]
Hi there smart drivers, Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about driving on the other side of the road.
Right Side of Road Going to Left Side of Road
For those of us who drive on the right and we travel to countries where they drive on the left, Australia, the UK, Malaysia, other parts of the world drive on the left side of the road.
There are certain precautions that you need to put in place before you go to these countries so that you don't get run over in traffic.
Because as you know, we teach children and ourselves, from a very young age we learn what's called a traffic sense.
We learn that are there dangers on the roadway and we cross the roadway at intersections, we look a particular way for traffic and those types of things.
Vulnerable Road Users
For those of us traveling as pedestrians we are the most vulnerable road user group.
And if you're deciding to ride a bicycle you're also one of the vulnerable road users in the world if you travel to a country where they drive on the other side of the road because when you come up to the intersection or to cross the road you're going to look the wrong way.
And actually if you go to London they actually have road markings right there at the intersection that for those of who are in countries that drive on the right, when we go to an intersection we look left.
When you're in a country that drives on the left you have to look right to ensure that traffic isn't coming and in London they've had quite a number of incidents where pedestrians have been struck because they look the wrong way and then stepped out into traffic and there was a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.
Walking and Riding Are Dangerous
So know if you're on a bicycle or you're a pedestrian that's when you need to be most careful.
And what I strongly suggest to you is simply look both ways before you step out into the roadway because I've had my times living in Australia and peddling my bicycle in Scotland on bike tours and those types of things where I looked the wrong way and then road out into the roadway.
Fortunately, the other very important sense that we have as human beings is sound.
So make sure that you're listening especially the busier it is and there's more traffic and urban noise and those types of things, make sure you're listening when you're walking around or riding a bicycle in these countries that drive on the other side of the road.
Good to Go When There's Other Traffic
Now driving an automobile, most of the time, you're not going to be in trouble.
Especially if there is other traffic, you simply need to follow the other traffic around and you're going to stay out of trouble because most of the road rules in the world are universal.
And if you watch my channel here most of the stuff that I teach about driving is universal and applicable in other countries.
There are some differences, yes, in North America we do not have zebra crossings or pelican crossings but they have those in the UK, you know, they're fun because you know you can teach little kids about zebra crossings and pelican crossings.
Roundabouts Are a Big Transition for Drivers
Now the other transition that I had when I moved to Australia was roundabouts.
And I had a great deal of learning to do in terms of roundabouts and when I got my truck license I had to go into a roundabout and I kind of plowed into the roundabout.
Now it's not as big of a deal because in Canada and North America now we are beginning to get roundabouts here so the transition isn't as big as it was when I went there in the early 2000s.
Roundabouts really hadn't even been reintroduced into North America.
So if you're not familiar with roundabouts you're going to have to get familiar with roundabouts because if you go to Australia for example, or you go to the UK, they love their roundabouts.
And they're single lane and they're two lanes and three lanes and multiple lanes so they can be fairly hectic and see the video, I'll put a video up here for you on roundabouts, if you're not familiar with roundabouts.
Use Caution When There's No Traffic
Now I will caution you the one time that you're going to get into trouble or you may deviate over to the other side of the road is when there isn't any other traffic.
And that's what happened in the introduction when I told you the story about the bus.
There wasn't any other traffic around on the highway, there wasn't any traffic for me to follow.
Therefore I just went back to what I knew. Also, probably I was a bit tired and just went back to what we know because that's what happens.
So I went and drove back on the right side of the road. So as long as there's other traffic follow the other traffic because then you're going to be alright.
The other thing about the automobiles is that vehicles are designed, regardless of whether you drive on the right side of the road or on the left side of the road you're always sitting in the center of the roadways.
Driving a Car is Relative
So for us, here in North America, when we drive on the right side of the road we sit on the left side of the car, therefore when we drive on the right, we're in the center of the roadway as the driver.
It's the same thing when you're driving on the left, the driving controls are on the right side of the vehicle, you drive on the left side of the road, therefore you're positioned in the center of the roadway.
Primary Controls of the Vehicle in Same Place
All of the controls in the vehicle are in the same place more or less. Okay, the foot pedals are all in the same place, the throttle is on the right, the clutch is on the left and the brake pedal is in the middle.
Or if you're driving an automatic the throttle will be on the right and the brake pedal with be on the left.
So the pedals are in the same place.
Shift With Your Other Hand
The only thing that's different is if you have a column shift on an automatic or if you have a stick shift in a manual shift, you're going to be shifting with your other hand depending on which side of the vehicle you're on.
So that's the only other thing that's going to be different. And that's a little bit strange at the beginning but you pick that up very quickly.
Secondary Controls Will be Different
Now the other thing about driving coaches in Australia, was the secondary controls. It depended on whether it was a bus that was manufactured in Australia or it was a bus that was manufactured in Europe.
Because there were quite a number of buses that were imported from Europe.
The windshield wipers and the turn signals would be on opposite sides of the steering wheel depending on the vehicle brand.
So I would get in some buses and go to turn the signals on and they'd be on the other side of the column. So that may be something that you have to come to grips with in terms of transitioning to driving a vehicle on the other side of the road.
But for the most part, it's going to be fairly easy.
Know that in North America if you do come from the UK or come from Australia that yellow lines divide traffic in opposite directions and white lines as a rule, divide lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction.
So the road markings will give you an indication of which way the traffic is traveling.
So those are some of things that you need to keep in mind when you're driving and moving to the other side of the road.
And as I said, just follow the traffic and most of the time you're going to be okay in terms of driving.
As a vulnerable road user, as a pedestrian or you're riding a bicycle or you're riding a motorcycle that's going to be harder than it is going to be driving a car because as I said all of the controls are in the same place.
The only thing that's different is the gear shift. The pedals are in the same place, the steering wheel's in the same place, you're still sitting in the center of the road so it doesn't feel as odd as you think it might as long as there's other traffic around.
And when you're going to get into trouble usually when you're driving is when there isn't other traffic on the roadway.
And as I said, as a pedestrian make sure you look both ways because you're going to look the wrong way because we've been conditioned as young children to look a certain way because that's the way the traffic's coming from.
So I was a lot more cautious when I was walking around or riding a bicycle then I was driving a car. I mean still, I was obeying all the road rules and those types of things. But that's where you're going to get into trouble.
Question for my smart drivers:
Do you have any tips for people traveling to other countries where they drive on the other side of the road?
Leave a comment down in the comment section there. All that helps out the smart drivers, world traveling.
I'm Rick with Smart Drive Test, thanks very much for watching. If you like what you see here, share, subscribe, leave a comment down in the comment section as well.
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