Differences between driving in the US and the UK

There are a great many differences between driving in the US and driving in the UK, as I have been keen to notice over the last few months.  The singlemost striking difference is sitting on the other side of the vehicle as driver (right hand drive vehicles) and being on the other side of the road.  It is that first few weeks of transition that can be found most nerve-wracking and require focused concentration at all times.  And most Americans or non-UK drivers can likely recount at least one tale of how they involuntarily lapsed in to previous habits.  (I was the target of some odd and steely looks as I drove the entire length of Windsor High Street on the wrong – the right! – side of the road.)

For about 3 weeks, until I consciously sought to correct the behavior, I found that I “hugged” the kerb side (left side) of most lanes and roads I drove on.  I think this was linked to my brain correcting for where it thought I should be in relation to the middle of the lane/road.

Since you sit on the other side of the car, in many UK market cars the levers on the steering column to operate signals/indicators and windscreen wipers don’t always correspond to where they are in cars made for the American market.  Signalling at the first sight of rain, or turning on the wipers before turning left were a regular occurrence.   (“Didn’t he see I was turning left?  My wipers were clearly on!”  I joked to myself beneath a crescendo of honks as I cut across two lanes to exit at a roundabout.)

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking it was the Romans who built roads in the US and not the UK.  Roman roads were renowned for being straight, but it seems when they left the UK they took their roads with them.  Modern road building seems to been executed using the McCartney method leading to a lot of swaying and bumping.

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