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tahl Aug 29th, 2008 02:42 PM

Useful tip for driving on the "wrong" side
I thought I'd post the best driving tip anybody ever gave me. I was taught it by a driving instructor more than 20 years ago, and it's helped me turn into the correct lane many times when I've been driving overseas.

The tip: As long as you are driving a car that's made for the country you're driving in (so, a car with steering wheel on left in the US, or a car with wheel on right in UK / Ireland / Japan / etc.), the driver's body always belongs beside the center line on the road. Always. Always.

Let's say I'm an American driving in England. I've mastered driving on the left on the straightaway. But there's that moment of terror when I have to turn, particularly if I have to turn right with no other cars around (since I have to decide what to do while I'm in the middle of the intersection, with nobody to copy). Which lane is "mine"? Answer: my lane is the one that will put my body next to the center line. Since my body is on the right side inside the car (remember, it's a UK-design car), I can only keep it next to the center line by going into the left-hand lane. Ta-dah!

The logic works the same if you're driving a US-design car in the US. Find center line; put myself beside it.

bettyk Aug 29th, 2008 02:53 PM

Great advice. This is what kept me in the correct lane when I lived in England for a year in the early 1980's.

Robespierre Aug 29th, 2008 02:57 PM

Well, be careful.

If you're turning onto a street that has two lanes going in your intended direction, swinging out to the lane next to the center line won't be appreciated by the people coming towards you who are turning to head in the same direction you are. In Arizona, swinging wide into another lane is technically illegal, according to the Driver License Manual.

You can only hope that you survive long enough so correct driving is ingrained to the point that you don't have to think about what to do. Rules like yours invariably have exceptions to put them to the proof.

TDudette Aug 29th, 2008 02:58 PM

Useful tip for driving on the "wrong" side:


tahl Aug 29th, 2008 05:34 PM

Robespierre, to clarify: I would never suggest swinging into an inappropriate lane. But the rule still works, b/c it's about nking which side of the *center line* of the road the driver should be on.

Robespierre Aug 29th, 2008 05:41 PM

"The driver's body always belongs beside the center line on the road" is a dangerously imprecise statement.

Padraig Aug 29th, 2008 06:07 PM

If you need a tip like that, I don't want to see you on the roads on which I drive.

NeoPatrick Aug 29th, 2008 06:57 PM

Never mind, tahl. I was smart enough to figure that your statement did not mean to imply that if there are two or more lanes that you have to be in the one closest to the center line -- only that your body in the driver's seat is closer to the center line than if you were on the other side of the center line. That suggestion is often given on both sides of the pond and MOST people understand what it means. The local car rental agencies here tell visiting Brits that all the time, and NEARLY ALL of them figure out it doesn't mean to always be in the center lane. It was just too difficult for some to use a little logic along with the suggestion.

These are the same people who would scoff at the suggestion to put your arm out the window to make a turn indication if your signal were broken -- insisting that would be a terrible idea because your window might not be open. DUH. Another terribly "imprecise statement" for those who have no common sense or logic. Some people don't know how to use logic or common sense along with suggestions.

Robespierre Aug 29th, 2008 08:41 PM

"Useful tips" should require no synthesis on the part of the receiving party.

I don't know anyone with a modicum of common sense who equates "beside" with "closer to the center line than if you were on the other side of the center line." In MOST people's lexicon, "beside" means "adjacent or next to" - and that seems logical to me.

cathies Aug 29th, 2008 09:22 PM

The tip I've heard that also seems to make sense is "keep your passenger in the gutter/kerb".

Robespierre Aug 29th, 2008 09:57 PM

...unless you're driving on a multi-lane street and you aren't in the curb lane.

Logic and common sense prevail.

NeoPatrick Aug 30th, 2008 06:49 PM

As I mentioned this advice is given to foreign tourists all the time -- and with no ill effect. I guess we're lucky that MOST of the renters are better able to figure out what was meant than some posters here who suffer from a severe case of the "literals". Anyone who can't figure out the difference shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a car to begin with. But then I suppose not being able to figure out what was meant really isn't the problem. Loving to nit-pick is.

JulieAgain Aug 30th, 2008 06:59 PM

Thank you for that tip! It really makes sense to me, but then I am able to understand multiple turning lanes. It is so strange that you posted this tip, because just last nite I decided to take the plunge if we tour England next year. So far, I (DH & I & I am the driver) have refused to rent a car in Europe because of the language differences on the signs & finding our way. In England, I was worried about the "other" side of the road driving. I'm going to try it.

Thanks again, Julie

Robespierre Aug 30th, 2008 07:07 PM

<i>But then I suppose not being able to figure out what was meant really isn't the problem. Loving to nit-pick is. </i>

Some call it &quot;nit-picking.&quot; I prefer &quot;precision in expository writing.&quot; From that point of view, &quot;only that your body in the driver's seat is closer to the center line than if you were on the other side of the center line&quot; leaves much to be desired.

There are already too many literal-minded drivers who swing into the furthest lane. I think it must date back to the horse propulsion days, when it was necessary to pull out so the wagon tongue would revolve evenly. <i>Beside</i> means &quot;next to&quot; or &quot;adjacent&quot; - which is the wrong way to express the principle.

(By the way, I haven't seen the survey proving that MOST of the renters can figure out anything, one way or the other. And I seriously doubt that anyone else has, either.)

NeoPatrick Aug 30th, 2008 08:26 PM

Well for those who find it too difficult to understand that multiple lanes would mean you don't have to be in the center one (if anyone really is THAT stupid) then I suppose they could always get a magic marker and write &quot;keep&quot; on their left hand and &quot;left&quot; on their right hand so that as they drive with both hands on the wheel they'll be reminded to keep left in the UK.

Of course, they would still have to have enough sense to figure out when a road divides into lanes, there are times they might have to be in the right of the two lanes --so I guess that would be another case of saying &quot;keep left&quot; not having been a good example of &quot;precision in expository writing&quot;. Probably all those usual directions of &quot;keep left&quot; should be banned, because there ARE exceptions to that rule.

In fact, I wonder what the proper &quot;precision in expository writing&quot; direction would be that has NO exceptions and doesn't require a little common sense with it.

Robespierre Aug 30th, 2008 09:05 PM

Here - apply your simplistic rules to this:

WVMountaineerinTX Aug 30th, 2008 10:00 PM

Very simple...always keep the steering wheel in the center of the road!

NeoPatrick Aug 31st, 2008 10:48 AM

Careful there, WVMountaineerinTx, the literalists here will insist that is too confusing for them -- first of all they will insist the steering wheel should stay IN the car, not on the road. You have to realize that some people have no ability to &quot;think&quot; about what things mean other than the absolute literal interpretation. It must be very difficult for them to go through life.

Padraig Aug 31st, 2008 12:42 PM

There is another issue: I take my own car, designed for driving on the left, to France each year. Were I to rely on tips such as those given here, I might get into great trouble.

I find it more useful to engage my brain rather than use a poor crutch.

stfc Aug 31st, 2008 01:14 PM

Robespierre - I navigate the Magic Roundabout in Swindon regularly and so do thousands of vehicles a day. It isn't at all difficult.

Most of the advice being given on this thread is overcomplicated. In the UK, we drive on the left. When you are driving here, please join us.

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