LOOK OUT!!!! We’re driving on the Other Side of the Road!


It is so funny that around the world there are so many places that drive on opposite sides of the road!  The technology was developed in one location and yet different countries chose to drive in different ways.  As a result, the future citizens of the world need to deal with the adventure of trying to drive on the other side of the road!!  This is our experience

For us, our first experience with driving on the other side of the road came in Scotland.  Growing up in Canada, we have become very accustomed to driving on the right side of the road, but Scotland has always driven on the left.  We have rented cars around the world from Hawaii, to Italy and Switzerland, so we are definitely comfortable with driving in rental cars and new locations (including the road to Hana on Maui and on the crazy streets of Italy).


Driving in Hawaii

Driving in Hawaii. Notice the driver (Evan) is on the left side!

Rental Car in Hawaii

Our rental car in Hawaii…nice!

Therefore, when we first booked the car in Scotland, we were nervous, but it all seemed very manageable.  We had spoken to a bunch of people who had experience to opposite side driving before and said we could do it.  However, as the day approached we became quite apprehensive.  It was unnerving to think of all the problems we could cause on the streets of Scotland with our attempts to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. 

We arrived in Glasgow for our Scottish vacation excited to see the home country of our ancestors.  Luckily, we were not renting a car until we finished our stay in Edinburgh one week later.  This gave us time to watch the traffic and try to get used to the change.  We took one tour by van from Glasgow to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond and we took advantage of this tour to ask the driver if he had any advice on driving in Scotland.  Lucky for us, he had been on vacation and had to drive on the opposite side of the road and the biggest piece of advice he gave us was that you just follow the taillights of the car in front of you.  This was a great help for us on many occasions, especially in cities and when you are heading out of a parking lot getting going after a stop.

Driving on the LEFT SIDE of the road.

Driving on the LEFT SIDE of the road (scary thought for us)!

So after a great tour of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the day came to get our car and head to the highlands!  We went to pick up the car from Waverley Station in Edinburgh (we know great idea picking it up in the heart of a very busy city!) and made our way to our rental.  We got our luggage in the car and proceeded to get into the wrong sides of the car (great start!!).  Once we were in the car (in the proper spots), we realized that it is not nearly as difficult as we thought to drive on the opposite side as long as you think about what you are doing and, whenever possible, try to follow the taillights of the car in front of you 🙂 .

Driving in Scotland

Driving on the RIGHT SIDE OF THE CAR!

Driving in Scotland

Tracy driving too!!

Our driving in Scotland did not go completely smoothly, however, with any change there are always some lapses.  The biggest of course was remembering to get into the right side of the car!  Here is a list of some of the other issues that came up for us:

1. Evan had a lot of trouble with backing up, not with the actual process, but just doing the shoulder check.  He has done many shoulder checks since he started driving at 16, but he was having so much trouble doing it when he started backing up in Scotland.  Every time he looked over his shoulder, he felt like it was so hard to see anything out the back.  There seemed to be so many things that got in the way of his sightlines.  He could manage to see what he needed to, but it always took so much effort.  It wasn’t until the 3rd day with the car that he finally figured out the problem.  It turns out he was so used to a look over the right shoulder for a shoulder check, that he continued to do this, which resulted in him trying to look through the frame of the car to see out the back :P.  A simple turn to the left made everything out the back look so much clearer 🙂 .

2.  Similar to the first problem, every time Evan got in the car to drive he tried to grab the seatbelt from his left… in case you haven’t figured it out this is the middle of the car where he just grabbed at air!

3.  This has nothing to do with driving on the opposite side of the road, but driving in Scotland is quite hair-raising as the roads you have to travel on (especially through the countryside) are sooooooo narrow!  There are MANY one lane streets in the country where you have to dodge oncoming cars by pulling into little pullouts on the side.  These roads are all twisty and the drivers in Scotland like to drive FAST!!  There were many close calls for us (or what we considered to be close calls), but we managed to survive.

Driving in Scotland

Yikes!! (and this was a good road!)

That was our first experience with driving on the other side of the road.  If we can give you advice, we would say the same things others said to us.  Just think about your driving (like so many of us no longer do at home…let’s be honest) and, when you can, follow the taillights in front of you.  Good Luck!

What are some of your experiences driving in a foreign country?


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