I almost crashed into oncoming traffic driving on the wrong side!
Yes, and it was my fault! I was coming back from dropping my daughter at dance class along the same route I’ve driven many times before. I turned left but I turned as if I were driving on the right side instead of the left. The car to my left going in the same direction looked at me in horror which was my first clue that I was doing something terribly wrong. Then I had to slam on the breaks so as not to hit the car coming towards me in the correct lane for oncoming traffic. Man, I felt like an IDIOT! The other drivers thought I was an idiot for sure. What’s worse, is that if I had hit anyone, it would have caused a terrible car crash.
Well, I was shaken up by this as you can imagine. What ever possessed me to do such a thing? I’ve been driving here in England on the wrong side of the road for nearly 15 years now! Surely I should be used to driving British style.
What I find interesting is that even though I’ve been driving on the left side of the road instead of the right side for all these years, it still doesn’t come naturally to me and, clearly, I always have to make a conscious effort to ensure that I AM driving on the left side (the correct side here in England).
When we go to Spain, I’m ALWAYS the driver. My British husband says he can’t physically drive on the right side and would definitely crash. I’m totally cool with that because 2 minutes after the initial adjustment of sitting on the left side of the car and driving on the right side of the road, I feel totally at home and everything comes very naturally to me. It gives me a feeling of homecoming in a way. It’s weird I know and I can’t explain it.
Contrary to what you must think now that I’ve revealed my mishap, I am actually a very good driver, I’ve been driving since the age of 15 and apart from small scrapes and bashes with stationary objects, I’ve never once caused a car accident in this country or in any other country.
What’s also interesting is the inherent inability for some people to switch sides. My husband is not the first British person who’s told me they can’t possibly drive on the right side of the road. It’s just too messed up. Well yes, it is messed up! I would love to hear from a British driver who drives or has driven over in America or in another country where they drive on the right side (think there are more countries that do that than the British way) to see how they find it and if they ever have times where they forget which side of the road to drive on.
Anyone else have a similar scary experience of idiot driving in England as a foreigner who’s used to driving on the other side of the road? Would love to hear your experiences (if only to make myself feel less stupid)!
Meghan Peterson Fenn is the author of Bringing Up Brits and co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs with Heidi Mulligan Walker. Meghan is also the Director and Chief Designer at her own design company, White Ochre Design Ltd. And, she is an award winning expat blogger.