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Driving on the Left...Easy Transition or Real Nightmare??

Driving on the Left...Easy Transition or Real Nightmare??

Jul 15th, 2012, 12:25 AM
  #61  
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There is a reason Automatics are not popular. Ireland (and much of the UK) has roads with bends and hills. An Automatic car going down a hill towards a bend has no engine breaking so it requires a heavy left foot (or a wall or a ditch) to slow down. Two miles of this boils the fluid, polishes the linings and the thing wont stop no matter how hard you press the peddle.
Tony2phones is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 02:17 AM
  #62  
 
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Hmm.. It may surprise you, but many parts of the US and Canada have many more and much higher mountains than the British Isles. If you go downhill with an automatic you simply shift into a lower gear manually and you have the same effect of engine breaking as with a stick.
If two miles of downhill driving wrecks your brakes, you should think of buying a new car.

Automatics have not gained that popularity in Europe (aside from a certain machismo which considers the ability to fiddle around with a stick a "skill") as it had formerly been sucking up an extra liter of gas on 100kms, you needed a stronger (and again more gas guzzling) engine to compensate for loss of power and acceleration between manual and automatic - and both did not work well with Europe's smaller cars/ engines. And many markets are still very price sensitive so an extra 500-800 euros for automatic (when buying a compact or sub-compact for 9-12K) is a matter of consideration for many consumers.
It's the same as with power steering which had been considered a "ladies' thing" as any real man was able to handle his machine with raw muscle power. And today you got it in any car you can buy.

Nowadays, the high end machines from European car makers come with automatic by default (even in the European markets) and you have to pay extra if you want an old fashioned stick shift.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 02:22 AM
  #63  
 
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"There is a reason Automatics are not popular. Ireland (and much of the UK) has roads with bends and hills. An Automatic car going down a hill towards a bend has no engine breaking so it requires a heavy left foot (or a wall or a ditch) to slow down. Two miles of this boils the fluid, polishes the linings and the thing wont stop no matter how hard you press the peddle."

Actually they aren't so popular in the UK, because:

1) They are more expensive to buy than manuals
2) They use more of our hugely taxed fuel
3) Generally they also allegedly generate more CO2, so road tax is higher
3) People generally learn to drive on manuals (otherwise they can only ever drive automatics), and naturally carry on with what they know.

Most decent cars with auto boxes allow you to override the auto change, and select gears manually, so you can get engine braking (I must admit I managed to boil the brakes in a rental Dodge Caravan driving through Death Valley before I worked out that I could push the shifter to the side to give manual control of the gears).
originalkk is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 04:03 AM
  #64  
 
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Cowboy

In the UK it spis still the case that most car manufacturers charge around £1500 extra for auto. I would say it is easier to use auto on British roads due to their relatively smaller size and more complex road systems. I have had both and prefer large engine auto, the latest Volvo XC70 we are about have delivered is perfect.

Auto on a sports car is just criminal. Our Porsche is manual and I have driven them with triptronic, it's like adding water to single malt.

One item that is missing from many UK cars, which I cannot live without and which would improve general motorway skill levels, is cruise control. All Brits should be made to use it, to avoid the speeding down hills, crawling up hills syndrome.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 04:30 AM
  #65  
 
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I learnt to drive in the U.K. fifty years ago, and even then drove both automatic gearbox and manual gearbox cars. I first drove overseas in the U.S. thirty years ago, and found no real problems doing things the other way round, although some junctions were a bit tricky. I have since driven many thousands of miles in many countries, on both sides of the road and with the steering wheel on both sides of the car, with both automatic and manual gearboxes. The most challenging vehicle was probably my brother-in-law's 32-foot R.V. with a Toyota RAV4 towed behind. We shared the driving from Los Angeles to Glacier National Park via Yellowstone, although he did more driving than I.

A lot of it is attitude of mind and family background. My father started driving in the 1920s, and many members of my family took their cars to Europe from the early 60s onwards. It never occurred to me that it was difficult, although I know many others who tremble at the thought. For some reason, roundabouts are a problem for some, but you just have to follow the usual rule and give way to traffic already on the roundabout. Roundabouts have become surprisingly popular in continental Europe in the past 20 years, but the camber on French ones, for example, is totally different from that on British ones, and the French ones can literally throw you.

Our latest car is a Citroen with a six-speed electronic gearbox, invariably driven as an automatic. Although more expensive to buy, these electronic gearboxes are becoming more popular in Europe since they usually give better fuel consumption. It is easy with a manual gearbox to be in the wrong gear and not realise.

We have cruise control on our car, but never use it. Driving at a steady speed is difficult when a road is crowded.
chartley is online now  
Jul 15th, 2012, 07:16 AM
  #66  
 
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"People generally learn to drive on manuals (otherwise they can only ever drive automatics), and naturally carry on with what they know."

Very true:

http://www.2pass.co.uk/auto.htm#.UALfMJH-2PQ
Hooameye is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 08:00 AM
  #67  
 
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Not so true. I learned on an automatic and the first car I ever owned, a real beater, was also automatic, or more correctly fluid drive. Then a few years later I had the hots for a used Triumph Herald soft top (don't ask) unusual on these shores, took a driving lesson on a manual and then drove it home. That was many years ago and I have always had one stick shift since then until fairly recently.
basingstoke2 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 09:50 AM
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What I was referring to was the fact that you can't legally drive a manual transmission car on an automatic trans licence in the UK, not that people who learn in automatics only ever want to drive automatics.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 11:41 AM
  #69  
 
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As I was reading through these posts, I remembered the time in Wales when I was driving up a long hill. I forgot that with a manual, I should shift down on a long incline, so the car kept going slower and slower. By the time it dawned on me what the problem was, there was a huge line of probably infuriated drivers behind me.

In Germany, I did something wrong at a roundabout. I still don't know what it was, but when I had to stop a little further on, a furious German man yelled at me and told me what a fool I was. He just went on and on! I didn't say anything, because I figured just letting him vent his outrage was easier than telling him that I was just a dumb American who wasn't used to roundabouts.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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I sound like a menace on the road, don't I?
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Jul 15th, 2012, 11:51 AM
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peg -we've all been there. was it you who wrote about turning the wrong way down a dual carriage-way? the number of times I've almost done that in France, particularly when driving my own car.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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There are huge signs on the isolated junctions of the M6, they face the opposite direction on the slip roads and simply say " you are going the wrong way".

I have definitely become more flexible with age. Years ago, we took one of the first dirt cheap easyjet flights to Palma,it landed at 3am. I can only apologise to the inhabitants of the island for the standard of my driving.

Ann

Back to Wallander , see if it's any better this week. I have just bought a Volvo Xc70 (very sad) but still no silly ringtone as yet. Come to think of it, the ringtone would have been considerably cheaper than the car.
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Jul 15th, 2012, 01:07 PM
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Back to Wallander , see if it's any better this week.>>

well, I'm enjoying it - if enjoying is the right word.

not expecting to see that it's sponsored by the Latvian tourist board though!
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Jul 15th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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Cowboy, your comment about people from the continent not wishing to holiday in a place where the weather is worse made me laugh. I was once on an English Lit summer school for teachers in the UK -- there were several continent folks (mostly from Scandinavia). For anyone interested in English Literature -- Austen, Brontes, Byron, etc, there's only one place to visit! After that I did a walking tour of Scotland, and there were several Dutch people on that (that said, I'm not sure they ever went back as the weather was just miserable).

I'm not sure I'd want to drive in the UK for some of the reasons mentioned here. Just too much remember, and if you can't put the car in reverse, as one poster mentioned, it's just one more thing to have do deal with.
susan001 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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Far more developed plot, enjoyed it.

They are still doing little to develop any other characters which is the success of series like Montalbano.

Riga looked mmmmm....sunny, yes it seemed quite sunny.
belted_galloway is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 04:49 PM
  #76  
 
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Looks like I've come to the party late again. Playing catch-up I may have skimmed through something I needed to see. But, somehow or other, I don't recall noting anyone taking exception to the phrase "wrong side of the road." What a quaint idea. In whose opinion?

Flanner is his/her usual self in generalizations about Americans. In this case it's guns. Always refreshing. Not always as cute as he/she might think. Seldom accurate.

As to roundabouts, here in California they are being used more and more, not being phased out.

On one trip, but scarcely my first, to the UK, my wife and I took the courtesy bus from Hertz to pick up our car at Heathrow. Whilst I was doing the paperwork she took the bus to a different terminal to get our Heritage passes (many years ago when that was the simplest way to do it). I got the papers and walked out to the car by myself and, in full view of the Hertz staff, opened the door on the left side of the car and sat down in (under what would have been my normal circumstances),the driver's seat. Realizing my mistake immediately (the lack of a steering wheel was my first clue) I tried to recover by fussing about in the glove box as though to organize maps et al. Having satisfied myself that the office staff had been fooled, I then moved to the opposite side. Of course, they likely were not. What is more likely is that no one gave a toss.

When my wife returned from her mission she headed in the direction of the car. Oh no! She was headed to her accustomed seat on the her usual "passenger's side." I was standing at the boot end of the vehicle and began nodding quietly with my head directing her to the left side of the car. At last she tumbled to my motions and off we went and Robert is your father's brother.

The biggest thing I have trouble with is right turns on city streets where I need to fight that urge to cut it too sharply. My wife aids me greatly by constantly saying "Think left" in such situations.

The most important advice given above that I recall reading was to think, not just react.

And, finally, some of us drive cars with automatic drives because of physical requirements, not just a simple desire to throw money away or an inability to drive with stick shifts (which I learned to do over 60 years ago).

Cheers,
BigBlue
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Jul 15th, 2012, 11:22 PM
  #77  
 
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"Melnq8 on Jul 13, 12 at 7:27am
The biggest obstacle was ME, getting over my fear and just getting on with it."

Me too! When we moved to the US I didn't drive for 3 months (couldn't actually since the rental car provided by DH's company was in his name only) but when DH drove I paid a LOT of attention to road signs, when to change lanes at particular intersections and speed limits so that when I did take my first solo trip? I knew exactly where I was going it took me a couple of weeks but I did get finally get into the drivers side. I still have problems figuring out which side of the car to get into though

"annhig on Jul 13, 12 at 4:00pm
and inevitably you eventually meet someone coming towards you round a blind bend when one or other of you has to reverse - I suppose that happens to me on my way to and from work at least 2-3 times a week."

That my dear is why British cars have horns! To blast them as you approach a blind corner on a barely 1.5 lane road and warn drivers coming in the opposite direction that they are not the only car on that road
My Dad loved driving on Cornish roads.
alya is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 11:33 PM
  #78  
 
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"originalkk on Jul 15, 12 at 6:22am
3) People generally learn to drive on manuals (otherwise they can only ever drive automatics), and naturally carry on with what they know."

This is why DD2 drives an automatic in the UK, we were moving to the US, she didn't want to come, needed to drive a car and struggled with a manual car. I was leaving behind my automatic Lupo anyway so we gave up and she quickly got an 'automatic licence'.
I'm pretty certain that after 12 years she'd be able to drive a manual with some lessons but you are correct, she'll probably stick with what she knows. Her DH also drives an automatic because that way they can swap cars.
alya is offline  
Jul 16th, 2012, 06:09 AM
  #79  
 
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alya: "Melnq8 on Jul 13, 12 at 7:27am
The biggest obstacle was ME, getting over my fear and just getting on with it."

Me too! When we moved to the US I didn't drive for 3 months . . . but when DH drove I paid a LOT of attention to road signs, when to change lanes at particular intersections and speed limits so that when I did take my first solo trip?
"

I was in the same situation when I moved to the UK. Was very young and didn't have the nerve to drive for about 2 months but watched/absorbed everything. Then on the VERY morning I was riding along to my husband's work and was to then take the car on my own for the very first time. . . a nit wit coming the other way on a blind hill on the B4027 decided to overtake and as he crested the hill the other driver (the overtake-ee) lunged to his left as did we and and there was almost enough room. But the nit wit managed to total all three cars. Scraped the whole side of the overtake-ee, missed our front drivers side but hit the back quarter hard enough to spin us around so we ended up pointing the wrong way. AND he was drunk!

And this was on a small country road w/ no traffic in the early AM. FREAKED me out and it was another month before I got the cojones to finally drive. But once I started . . . it was terrific (except for the drunks on blind hills)
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Jul 16th, 2012, 06:26 AM
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>>When my wife returned from her mission she headed in the direction of the car. Oh no! She was headed to her accustomed seat on the her usual "passenger's side."<<

I did that to a taxi-driver at Miami Airport, the first time I went to America. When we'd sorted that out, I offended him mortally by buckling myself in (it had just become compulsory in the UK). But I managed to survive (the FBI was paying for me anyway, but that's another story).
PatrickLondon is online now  

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