Driving on the Left

By: Zachary Burns

September 5, 2021

Okay, so it has been a hot minute since I have written a blog post. Fine I will admit it has been several months. I can give you all the excuses in the world and say how busy I am with working another job to how exhausted I am. All of which are true and it is what it is.

With my return to Scotland I thought what better time to talk about one of the most expensive mistakes that Americans can make in the U.K. You might be reading this and asking yourself, “What are the expensive mistakes that many Americans make?”

I am so glad you asked yourself that question. Believe it or not it is driving on the wrong side of the road. You read it and I did not stutter, a common mistake Americans make while driving in the UK is driving on the wrong side of the road. Why is that? UK drivers drive on the left side of the road. Which means that the passenger side is where you normally sit to drive and the passenger side is now the drivers side. Confused yet?

Trust me I was too! However, it gets even better. Now I want you to remember this. When driving in the UK turning left is short and turning right is long. Got it? No worries it took me awhile as well. Keep reading because I have the break down for you.

United States United Kingdom
Drive on the Right Drive on the Left
Driver side on the Left Driver side on the Right
Left turns Long Left turns Short
Right turns Short Right turns Long

Make sense? If not here is something you can do to practice. Find an empty parking lot and practice as though you are driving on the left. That’s right set up some parking cones get a family member or friend to drive on the right side of the cones and you on the left. I have done this before and it works. However, each person is different so do what works for you.

Transmission Type: Automatic or Manual
While most vehicles here in the States are automatic that is not the case for the U.K. If this shocks you well I hope this disabused you of any fanciful notion that all cars in the U.K. are automatic. Most drivers in Scotland drive manual or in American terms “stick shift.”

If you do not know how to drive a manual well… LEARN!! I promise you will thank me later for telling you that. Here in the States when driving a manual the stick shift will be on your right side. Can you guess where I am going with this? Well… you are right literally you will be driving on the left side of the road on the right side of the car. Which means that the stick shift and emergency break will be on your left side. The clutch and pedals will be exactly the same just on the right side of the car.

Now that does not mean that the U.K. does not have automatic cars. I should know because my great-aunt has one. There is just more manual cars than automatic ones in the U.K.

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