Going Native

We moved to France last May with a UK right hand drive (RHD) car. Driving it here in France didn’t cause me any real problems as I had driven many miles, or should I say kilometres,  here over the years. I’m lucky I can quickly adapt to driving in different situations. I’ve been driving for 35 years this year (eek!) And I’ve driven a variety of vehicles in that time from small cars to 7.5 tonne trucks and things like Land Rovers with big trailers.

Over the years I’ve driven left hand drive (LHD) vehicles, hire cars or vans mainly. Being here full time though has exposed me to more of the hazards of driving a RHD car in France than you would experience in just a holiday.

We are awaiting the delivery of a new LHD car next month, I hope. In the meantime, we have hired a Fiat Punto, which of course is left hand drive. So what is it like swapping over to LHD after years of driving RHD vehicles?

You still do odd things like walking to the passenger side rather than the driver’s side in supermarket car parks! Or going to release the seat belt on the left hand side when you are sat in the driver’s seat rather than the right hand side. But I’ve quickly adapted to driving a LHD car again for longer than a few hours. The other change over for me with the Fiat is that it’s a manual and our previous car which we had for two years was an automatic. So far I’ve only forgotten to use the clutch once when coming to a halt!

One thing I have noticed is how much safer it is sitting on the correct side of the car when you are driving on the right. You have a better view of on coming cars on roundabouts and you can see other vehicles so much better without having to look around the windscreen pillars. Likewise when turning into right hand junctions you have a better view of the road you are turning into.

I have heard people quite concerned about driving on the other side of the road than the one they are used to driving on, but concentrate on your driving, which of course you should be doing anyway, and you won’t have any issues. I use my TomTom SatNav to warn me of speed limits and speed cameras. The French police seem to be pretty active with their mobile speed camera cars in our area, so I suggest you need to stick to the speed limits wherever you are.

Safe and happy driving, which ever side you drive on….

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