Tips for Driving on the Left Side of the Road

Image by Dagmara Owsiejczyk from Pixabay

Once you move to Scotland from Europe, you will probably find yourself in the situation where you get confused when you have to cross a road. Even after a few weeks you might still struggle on huge intersections and become utterly perplexed in the middle of the road.

Getting used to Scottish roads and figuring out where to look first can already be as tricky as a pedestrian. At some point you will probably want to drive a car but will have some anxiety about driving on the left side of the road. The good news is: It doesn’t take too long to get used to left-handed traffic. Here are some tips that should help you in preparing for your first drive on the other side.

Left, Left, Left

Even though it sounds obvious, you will have to trick your brain into thinking left. Even if that means that you take a moment at each intersection to say “left”. Especially when you have to turn right, this can help you ensuring that you don’t accidently become a wrong-way driver by manoeuvring into the wrong lane.

In Scotland, cars can legally park on each side of the road, so they are not the best reminder to drive left unfortunately. Again, if you are in doubt just keep telling yourself “left” and just slow down a bit.

Get Used to the Car

If you have never driven a car on the left side, it’s best if you take enough time to get used to the car before you start the engine. The wheel is on the right side and the gear change on the left. The good news is: The pedals remain exactly where they would be in Europe.

However, if you generally feel quite nervous about driving on the left side, you might want to drive an automatic car. That way, you can fully focus on the road and get used to left-handed traffic quickly.

Look Up The Route On Google Maps

Before you embark on your first left-handed drive after moving to Scotland, it’s a good idea to look up the route you intend to drive on Google maps. Especially tricky intersections, roundabouts or chaotic motorways such as those in Glasgow can make driving stressful, particularly when it’s your first time on the left side.

The more research you do beforehand, the better your drive will probably be and the more you will get used to driving in Scotland.

Check The Space on Your Left

Even when you finally managed to trick your brain into thinking left, you (or your passengers) will notice that you often drive too much on the left of your lane. You drive naturally more to the left side as you are used to sitting on the left. This can become a problem as you might eventually scratch your car on narrow roads, or even drive off the left-sided mirror.

While you are on the road, you can use the road markings as an orientation and try to keep as close as possible to the ones on the right. When you have to park, you might want to have someone sitting next to you who keeps an eye on your left side. After a while, you will eventually get better in estimating the space correctly.

Ignore Aggressive Honking

Unlike Germany, it’s not forbidden in Scotland to use the horn (at least during the day). Which means that people here really like to honk at everything and everyone. So don’t take it too personal if someone just honks at you for literally no reason. Just stay calm and keep on driving, it’s most likely just an impatient driver behind you.

Watch Out for Pedestrians

One of the first things you probably have noticed in Scotland (especially if you are German) is, that no one really cares about traffic lights, especially pedestrians. You eventually turn into someone who vehemently ignores long traffic light waiting times and just cross when there is no car in sight. However, you can’t do that as a car driver.

When you sit in the car, you develop a slight dislike of pedestrians ignoring traffic lights whenever they can or when they suddenly appear from nowhere. Thus, keep an eye on pedestrians as they might walk onto the road while you have green. At least you don’t have to worry too much about cyclists as they barely exist in Scotland and are (technically) not allowed to cross while you turn into a road.  

Driving on the left side of the road can seem scary at first and can make you a bit anxious, but once you have managed your first drive you will get used to the traffic quite quickly. Hopefully, the tips from this article has given you a better idea on how to prepare yourself for left-handed traffic.


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