|Subject: Driving in US/UK|
With all the postings regarding driving on the left - I thought I'd add our
driving experience last summer in California.
We have driven on the right for thousands of miles in France - but always in our own car.
We rented a car in LA and picked it up at the airport. So far so good. We went to its bay on the parking lot and clambered in (it was what we call a people carrier and Americans call a minivan - I think). Dave put in the keys and then we both looked at the empty space where we thought the gearstick should be. We looked at the steering wheel and then at the empty space again. After 15 mins of...er...discussion along the lines of how was I supposed to know they'd give us an automatic for God's sake it can't be that difficult etc I convinced Dave we would have to swallow our pride and admit we hadn't a clue how to drive the thing. The only automatic I've ever seen had the drive stick on the floor. Eventually a mechanic came over to us. His command of English was about as good as my Spanish (two beers and a plate of olives please!)
After waving his arms for 10 minutes he left us and finally we bunnyhopped the car to the barrier and were waved off onto the wrong side of the road by almost hysterical security guards.
I must say that after that 'slight' problem we found driving in California a doddle and loved the automatic - it certainly was loads less exhausting than a manual.
So with all the good advice floating through the ether to would-be drivers in the UK I would add that I think the really problematic times are when pulling out onto deserted roads (when you automatically pull onto the side you are used to) - and also, do make sure you are familiar with the car. You don't want the first time you look for the windscreen wipers to be when it is bucketing down and pitch dark!
In the UK just tootle along at a safe speed and if anyone gesticulates to you treat it as a greeting and cheerily wave back!
Cheers Sally Somerset UK