Thursday, December 13, 2012

Driving From The Passenger's Seat

I've tackled many challenges in my life. Some fun. Some annoying. All (mostly) worth while.

Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING could have prepared me for this:

Yes, the steering wheel (and, well, me) is on the right side of the car. You know, because that's how they make 'em in England.

And yes, as like most of the cars in England, this one is a manual. Which I have never driven before in my life.

2 challenges in 1? Why the hell not!

But it happened, and I'm here to tell you that it was kind of amazing.

Despite the Fiance saying that I did better than him and his brother on their first times driving (whoop whoop!), I had a few (read: 72983) oopsies along the way. But I'll spare you the novel and just tell you the important ones.

Oopsie #1: The clutch does a hell-of-a lot more than I thought it did. Surprise! I'm used to the car doing all the work, and now all of a sudden my left foot having to do something! I literally thought the clutch was just needed to change gears.... It's not. It's like you're doing a little dance with your feet.

Oopsie #2: Turning the wrong way when reversing. When you reverse in America, you turn your body to the right (to look over your right shoulder). That works really great when you are sat on the left side. Doesn't work so great when you are sat on the right side and find yourself staring at your seat belt and door. Yep, my brain went into car reversing mode and automatically turned right. WRONG.

Oopsie #3: "Driving like an American". There's no other way to describe it. Driving in a "new seat" gives you a completely new perspective. So most of my car depth perception is screwed. Apparently the car was always too left when I was driving and I had loads of extra space on the right side that I should have utilized.

I should also say that I didn't even make it on to a road. (Hence why I'm probably still alive...)

We stayed in an empty lot the entire time while I dealt with my 2 challenges in 1.

Next step is to perfect the whole "not stalling" thing and make my left foot not so lazy before hitting the streets of England. I'll let you know how things progress.

(By the way, I'm in the process of getting my provisional license in England, but I can drive here on my American license for one year. Make sure you check your country's driving laws before you embark on adventures in your car!) 

Has anyone ever tried driving in a country that drives on the opposite side as your own? How did it go? If you've never tried, would you consider it? Why or why not??


  1. I have heard horror stories about driving in England (and the test!) so I think you're very brave! if we hadn't been living in London, where a car isn't necessary, I would have totally tried for mine - which is my excuse, but really I was scared :P

    Jon doesn't even have his license. He went to boarding school and then lived in London so he never needed it, but he promises to do it before the wedding. we'll see... haha!

    1. petrified for the test! especially since in Florida we don't even leave a parking lot for our test!!!!
      I know so many people without a license here, too. I want the option to have it more than I actually want to drive to be honest...

  2. wow, good for you!!! i am sweating just reading about it :)

    1. thanks!! I'll be sweating once I hit a real road!! :)

  3. My first car here in the States was a manual, so it was learn it or don't drive! I am so glad I know how now as when my sister (same situation) and I now drive automatics, we call it "sleeping while driving". Seriously, how do people have issues driving automatics?

    Anyway, when I was living in NZ, of course, I had the option to drive a manual, but I flat out refused. I have enough to deal with, driving on the otherside of the road, no way am I going to have to think about the stick and pedals also!

    So, good on you, for tackling this!

    1. I've always wanted to learn to drive a manual, but I had no idea it would be this hard!! I miss my poor automatic car now!!


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