Many British and Irish people are scared to drive in foreign countries. The mere thought of sitting on the left-hand side of a car and driving can send a shiver up the most experienced driver’s spine. Sure, British and Irish drivers may be afraid of other aspects of driving abroad, but sitting on the left-hand side of the automobile is by far the biggest issue.
Although it can be nerve-racking to drive on the opposite side of the car in a foreign country, it isn’t impossible to do. In fact, with a little practice, you will be just as comfortable as driving in Britian or Ireland. Even before you get behind the wheel on the opposite side of an automobile, there are some calming tips that can help you adjust before driving abroad.
Plan out your travel plans
If you are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with sitting on the left-hand side of an automobile, make the experience as easy as possible. By planning your travel ahead of time, you map out the journey and decrease the chances for unexpected situations from popping up. Use a sat-nav to guide you on your journey. When driving in a foreign country, a sat-nav is an invaluable tool to have with you. Before setting off you should double-check your route to familiarise yourself with the area.
Get an automatic transmission vehicle
Sure, having a vehicle with a gearshift makes you feel cooler as a driver. On holiday, you don’t have to do your best Lewis Hamilton impression, however. An automatic transmission vehicle is the ideal way to make driving abroad easier. If you are used to shifting with your left hand, making the sudden adjustment of shifting with your right can be extremely difficulty – even if you are right-handed. In many countries, hire car companies typically rent out manual transmission vehicles. Automatic transmission vehicles are more expensive, but provide you the chance to focus on steering, accelerating, and braking without shifting gears as well.
Be cautious at all times
There is a mindset in British and Irish driving to allow others to pass and be courtesy to other drivers. In countries like the United States, there is far more emphasis put on defensive driving and ensuring you don’t cause an accident or become involved in one. You should be observant of the cars around you when driving abroad and take extra care. Driving cautiously can prevent you from being involved in an accident. You should also pay attention to the way others around you drive and copy them. The way people drive in North America is far different that in Britain or Ireland. Part of the reason is due to the long stretches of roads available. Still, you need to be focused when driving on these long expanses of road.
Observe the rules
Some travellers are a bit naive and believe that the rules of the road in Britain and Ireland are the same throughout the world. This is far from true as each country has its own rules of the road. For example, in Spain, it is against the law to wear flip flops while driving. This is due to the footwear being flimsy when trying to use a vehicle’s pedals. Rules for parking are different from country to country as well. If you do not observe the rules, you may receive a fine or worse. If there is a language barrier, you may have even more difficulty sorting out the issue.
Consider where you will hire a car
No matter the size, cities are the most difficult places to drive a vehicle. The larger the city, the more stressful driving becomes. Therefore, if you are hiring an automobile, do it away from a city and in a more rural area. This may ease your foreign country driving experience. How? It gives you the chance to get behind the wheel away from streets packed with traffic. If you are travelling in Europe, there is a high probability that you will be able to use public transport to reach the rental company. If you are staying at accommodation within a city, but are planning an excursion outside of it, arrange to pick up your hire car on the city’s fringes.
Familarise yourself with the automobile
It sounds simple to say it, but you really must familiarise yourself with the hire vehicle before driving away. Once you get into the vehicle, check the seat’s positioning, open each window, locate the gearshift, find the switch for the windscreen wipers and lights – if the automobile doesn’t have automatic lights. It is easy to just get into the vehicle and drive away from the hire company. This provides you with issues later on as you drive the automobile. You don’t want to be driving down the motorway while searching for your windscreen wiper switch. It could put you, your passengers, and other drivers at risk.
Be properly insured
No matter how hard you try, accidents do happen. You should be properly insured when hiring a vehicle to prevent the hire company from charging you through the nose. A lot of hire companies will find any way they can to charge you extra for the vehicle. A majority of European car hire companies will provide basic liability insurance. They will also include a Collision or Loss Damage Waiver (CDW or LDW). This protects you against damage and theft. In spite of CDW and LDW, you may still be forced to pay an excess in case of damage. Hire companies often try to sell customers extra insurance to cover damage. However, the insurance can be pricy and increase the cost of the vehicle.
Take it easy each day
Each morning, you should ease into driving. After a few minutes of turns, stop lights, roundabouts, and traffic, you will feel more confident as a driver. If you are unfamiliar with driving on the left-hand side of the car, it may feel like starting from scratch each day. Ease into the morning with caution and your driving will become more confident throughout the day.