If you are new to driving in Australia, New Zealand or the UK, it will take some time getting used to driving on the other side of the road. The rules of the road are different for these countries. Some of their “road work ahead” signs for sale are different as well, which might confuse you.
But once you start driving on the other side, you will notice details you took for granted before that are now essential. You will also discover it is not as easy as it looks. So if you want your driving experience in Australia to be a bit stress-free, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind.
Have someone drive first
If you have just arrived, do not get behind the wheel immediately. Instead, let someone else drive first. Give yourself one day to rest so that when you are about to drive, you are well rested and more mentally prepared to drive differently from what you have been used to.
Remember that your driving skills are more of a muscle memory now that you have been doing it for years so it will be difficult to tell your muscles to do something differently right away. Give yourself some time before you get behind the wheel.
Make sure you are not alone when driving
It’s important to have a co-pilot while you are driving in a country that has different traffic rules from your country because that person will take care of other stuff that you don’t need to be bothered with. Your sole focus should be on driving on the left side of the road and abiding by the road rules. Things like changing the radio station, checking the map and figuring out which road to take should fall on your co-pilot.
Familiarise yourself with your vehicle
Even before you step on the road, you should know all the important details of your vehicle. Remember that in places like Australia, the UK and New Zealand, you are driving on the left side of the road, which also means that the controls of your car like the stick shift will be on the other side as well.
Familiarise with these controls first and try to orient yourself with the mirrors as well because they can be confusing too if you are not used to driving on the other side of the road.
Choose a car with an automatic transmission
Driving on the other side of the road is difficult enough, so make everything else easy for you and drive a car with an automatic transmission. With this car, you will not have to familiarise yourself too much with using your left hand to change gears.
Drive a little above the minimum speed limit so that if every time you encounter speeding cars, swerving cars or any sudden occurrence, you will have enough time and distance to either hit the brakes or avoid a collision.
Driving in Australia or any other country that has cars on the left side of the road can be manageable as long as you take the time to orient yourself with your car and the rules of the road.