I recently got back from a weeklong vacation in Ireland, where I had my first experience in a right-hand-drive car, and had to cruise around the countryside on the left side of the road. It was weird and strange at first, but in short order, I loved it. Driving a right-hand-drive car owns.
[Full Disclosure: Citroen wanted us to drive the 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus so bad that I asked them for while I was on vacation in Ireland (which I paid for myself), and Citroen very kindly agreed. There are small perks to this horrible job of blogging for you ungrateful miscreants, and those perks often involve driving weirdo things when vacationing abroad. Citroen dropped a Citroen C4 Cactus off at the airport in Dublin with a full tank of gas. There will be a full review coming soon because dang this thing is good.]
This vacation had been planned for months, but nonetheless, as soon as I got in the car, I was put off by the prospect of abruptly shifting to the other side of the road. I had never done this before, and even if you have, the switch can be jarring.
Within a half hour or so, however, I got in a groove. I immediately understood what Torch said earlier this year: it’s weird at first, sure, but it’s not hard to adjust to. And it’s honestly a lot of fun.
I certainly had to get reacquainted each morning with the setup. My brain’s hardwired to pay attention to the left side of the lane, and so I’d find myself again and again creeping over into the far left of the road, occasionally onto the next lane. My girlfriend would shout something about how I’m driving like an idiot, prompting me to realign myself.
As such, there were plenty of near misses. Thanks to the incredibly-tight lane lanes of Ireland, I had a number of near-misses coming around the bend, going head-to-head with drivers who’re comfortable as can be with the arrangement. I’d slow the Cactus to a crawl, reorient myself, and continue on. Roundabouts were goofy, too. I’d ease in, and, a couple of times, I went in on the wrong lane. Americans are bad with those in general.
I didn’t adjust to all aspects of the setup. Basically every time I got in the car to pull it out of park, I’d grab... the door handle, which felt stupid. And of course there were several times when I’d go to enter the car from the left side, which, whoops.
But I’d find my groove again.
There was something about the left side that just felt... right (ha). As soon as you get out of Dublin, the roads narrow dramatically, and there was something about having to inch to the left to avoid striking an oncoming car that felt comfortable, for reasons I can’t really even explain. Maybe it’s as simple as getting out of your comfort zone once in awhile, but, what I thought would be a weird experience, wound up being a blast.
It wasn’t that it was an entirely different driving experience, but, once I got reacquainted each day with driving on the other side, I felt like I was more in control of the car. I had a better, robust view of the road, and I think that alone made it more easier and fun.
So if you’ve never done it, don’t fret. Just make sure if you do to get the hell back on the right side when you return to the U.S.