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Renting a car abroad? How to cope with the changing sides of the road
Have you just moved overseas or going on holiday? Here are 4 key tips to help even the most experienced drivers get used to driving on the opposite side of the road.
The majority of drivers (approximately 65%) drive on the left side of the road, leaving only 15 countries and several island states, including the UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and India driving on the right, Cyprus being one of them! Most, however not all former British colonies drive on the left hand side of the road.
1. Overcoming a “which side should I be driving on” moment
A technique to remember is to drive with the central line, or the centre of the road, beside your outer shoulder. So, if you’re driving in Cyprus on the left (in a Cyprus car that has the steering wheel on the right-hand side), the centre line of the road must be to your right shoulder. So, if you’ve pulled out and have a sudden panic “is this the right side?” check where your outer shoulder is in relation to the centre of the road.
2. Roundabouts & traffic circles
Roundabouts can be tricky to negotiate when you’re new to driving on a different side of the road. Typically, you’ll be facing roundabouts in an anti-clockwise direction in right-hand side countries and clockwise in left-hand side countries like Cyprus and the UK! If you anticipate it being stressful, it is worth purchasing a removable/double-sided indicator that you can stick to the base of the windscreen, which shows the flow of traffic in either left or right hand-sided countries (flip it over according to where you will be driving). These are available for purchase for a nominal amount online.
3. Remember: the foot pedals never change
Luckily, there is an international standard for both automatic and manual cars, regardless of which side the steering wheel is. Going from right to left on a manual, you can remember the order by reciting ABC which stands for accelerator, brake, and clutch.
4. Be cautious of your headlights in oncoming traffic
Your car’s headlights will be set up according to the side of the road you are driving on. So, cars driven on the right side of the road have headlights that are aimed slightly to the right so that they don’t dazzle oncoming vehicles, and vice-versa for cars driven on the left. In Europe, it is a legal requirement to be cautious of oncoming drivers and not dazzle them with full beams. You must adjust your lights or simply use headlight converter stickers.