Driving on the Left

We’ve been driving all around the Dublin area, through Slane, Dunleek, Dowth, New Grange, and finally Drogheda and becoming accustomed to driving on the left has been an interesting experience. First in the rental car there are no fewer than 4 stickers throughout the driver area reminding you to be on the left, and there also seem to be signs to remind you about it around all the tourist areas. What I found difficult wasn’t driving on the left side, which was fairly easy to remember, but rather I found myself aligning myself as the driver with the part of the lane I would be in if I was driving on the right side. Needless to say, this can put you dangerously close to anything to the left of you. So my new mantra (oft-repeated by my sister) has become “Guide to the left.” Thank goodness for collapsible mirrors. On the bright side, left turns are easy.

15 thoughts on “Driving on the Left

  1. I had the exact same experience my first day in New Zealand. My wife and I were driving to our hotel in Auckland from the airport and several times she could be heard screaming from the passenger seat, “TOO CLOSE! TOO CLOSE!!!”

  2. Be alert when you come to the roundabouts. Keep thinking “stay left”. It will feel quite natural to go right as you enter the circle. That will result in a large insurance claim.

  3. Experienced the same thing when I moved from Norway to Tanzania — from right to left. The trick is to remember that the driver should always be seated in the middle of the road. What will happen is that you turn the windshield wipers on when you mean to indicate and vice versa.

  4. Good tip about the roundabouts…. especially some of the crazy ones we’ve got going in this country! Welcome back to Ireland all the same…

  5. Come on down to bantry whilst you’re in cork…. you won’t know the difference between the left and right on our back roads, as they are all only just wider than the car!!!!


  6. I had the exact opposite problem (or same, depending which way you’re facing) while in the USA last year. It’s not so bad traveling on the right hand side of the road, but as soon as you have intersections and turns through traffic you have to suspend all common sense and do the opposite, which is so incredibly effective in completely undermining any driving confidence you pretended to have.

    The most scary aspects though are really easy mistakes to makes, knowing where to look when you do a u-turn on a single lane road, and how to act in parking lots could really get you into some serious problems.

    It is refreshing though to see our right-side friends having the same issues when driving on the correct side of the road. 😉

  7. I had problems on roundabouts which are pretty uncommon here, but abound in the UK. Also, merging with oncoming traffic is quite different here. Cars just keep moving here, and you just join the flow a lot of the time. In UK. nightmare! So different to Taiwan.

  8. Keep the steering wheel side to the center of the road. Only use this technique if you’ve rented a card with the steering wheel on the left hand side!

    Reminds me of the old joke about the plan to change the country over to the RHS —

    Starting on Monday all trucks and semis will drive on the right.
    On Tuesday all cars and bicycles will move to the right 🙂

  9. When we moved to MN fro the UK I had similar issues – I’d do a little dance as my left hand would reach down for the gear stick, then I’d remember and switch hands. The scariest one, though, is traffic lights. In the UK the lights are on both sides of the junction, so you know that pulling up to the first set of lights puts you in the right position. In MN they’re only on the far side of the junction, so pulling up to the lights is a very bad idea. It’s a common mistake (I didn’t make it, but was a passenger in a car that did). Happily terror is a great teacher, so it’s a mistake you only make once.

  10. I assume you had a vehicle with manual transmission. I’m headed to Ireland in a few weeks and I’m scared to have the stick in my left hand. Eek.

  11. Driving on the left is correct for right-handed people the great majority, here is why:

    When changing gear in a UK car with the steering wheel on the right , this is of course correct in the UK etc for driving on the left——–your left hand changes gear and your right hand stays on the steering wheel, (this is safer for right handed people.)

    The reverse is the case in countries where one must drive on the right.– in other words if you live in the USA you hold the steering wheel with your left hand and change gear with your right hand because of course the steering wheel is on the left in the USA——–this is dangerous if you are right handed.

    Bicycles: Bike riders are in real danger in countries where driving on the right is mandatory again assuming you are right handed—-Try mounting a bike in the USA and you will find yourself in the stream of traffic when getting on the bike—- try it yourself———: Mounting a bike in the UK is done from the sidewalk by right handed people who find it easier to put their right leg over the bike. , Much safer and this must have saved many lives.

    Reversing up a steep drive: My drive in the UK is very steep———-when I reverse out I hold the steering wheel with my right hand and look over my left shoulder to the rear window. In a USA car you must hold the steering wheel with your left hand and look over your right shoulder to look out of the rear window.. So you must reverse with your left hand on the steering wheel.. Or stick your head out of the window if you want to use your right hand on the steering wheel. —Dangerous for the 82% right handed majority.

    Right handed people who are also “right eyed” have the traffic coming toward them on their right in left hand driving areas , which is the way “right eyed” people are able to react better. When overtaking on a right hand driving USA road the right eyed/handed driver looks in the mirror with the left eye and also views the oncoming traffic with the left eye. A change of gear is sometimes needed to overtake so he/she is driving left handed while changing gear with the right hand and looking in the mirror and oncoming traffic with the left eye. Of course the gear change should in theory be completed before pulling out but this in practice is not always the case. The prevalence of automatic gear change in the USA may not be just luxury after all but necessity

    Perhaps a billion cyclists in right hand driving areas around the world are all risking their lives mounting their bike in traffic. Also In right hand driving areas a greater number of people reverse with their heads out of the window and hundreds of millions of right handed drivers hold the steering wheel at speed with their left hand. There are over 6 billion people in the world today and billions of people using road transport. Driving on the left is safer and provably safer for right handed drivers; however I concede that because over 60% of the world drives on the right there is no prospect of a global change to driving on the left.

    Mounting a horse, for further illustration of the problems caused by driving on the right just try mounting a horse from the right hand side (If you are right handed)

    There is significant evidence that in the days of the Roman Empire everyone drove on the left. (That’s one in the eye for Hollywood!). This was partly because one mounts a horse from its left (we all do) and it was sensible not to be doing this whilst out ‘in the traffic’.
    Also, carters needed their right arms free to wave swords at would-be attackers. Therefore they sat on the right hand end of the driver’s bench. When carts passed each other the drivers needed to be sure that they actually missed each other so they passed “driver to driver”. I.e. they drove on the left.
    Evidence from Roman gold mines indicates that they drove on the left. The ruts left by the loaded carts leaving the mine are on the left side of the road whilst lighter empty carts entered on their left side.

    Everyone in Europe changed to driving on the right when Napoleon started mucking around because he was LEFT handed and driving on the RIGHT is better for LEFT HANDED people .
    Incidentally, French main line trains pass on the left too. This is because their railways were mainly built by British engineers. I don’t think that they’ve ever forgiven us for this