May 26, 2010

Driving on the Left Side

This, oddly, has not been a source of frustration. You’d think that having to switch sides, on top of all the other issue with moving to a new country, would be a major hassle. But I have to admit I’m actually enjoying that part. It’s almost like you’re back in your late teens, fairly new to driving, and welcoming each opportunity to go out there and challenge yourself. You really do have to focus, especially if you’re first in line at a red light and about to turn right. It feels all wrong. Invariably, you will walk to the wrong side of the car to get in every single time, invariably you will turn on your windshield wipers when you’re really wanting to use the blinker, and invariably you will grope around with your right hand after backing out of a parking space, trying to shift gears. You will also really never know which way to turn your head when you back up the car.

But aside from all that, the left side driving experience is not bad. I have much more trouble as a pedestrian. I never know which way to look first and where cars might be coming from. Your entire instinctive reflexes you learned at your mother’s hand as a toddler have to be reprogrammed. Especially when crossing one of those roundabouts that seem to be just about everywhere here. You really have to think hard every time, trying to figure out which way cars might be circling around it.

What’s really funny too is passing people on the street. I always want to pass them on their right side, just because it feels natural, but I guess to them passing things on the left seems more normal, so that I am constantly bumping into people. Even turnstiles go the opposite way, isn't that funny?


Anonymous said...


Thought I could send you a private message on your profile. Apparently not...
I am happy to show you around a bit if you want, Corporate Relocations try, but aren't really there when you are ready to venture out. Are you in Dainfern Valley if yes then drop by, I'm at 2019. Otherwise send me an email on

Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Ich habe garnicht dran gedacht, dass in SA Linksverkehr ist. Ich kann mich noch daran erinnern, als wir in England waren, da hatte ich auch immer Probleme gerade in den Kreiseln und wie du schreibst, das was man als Kind eingebleut bekommt, ist plötzlich alles falsch. Ich hab mich überhaupt nicht getraut, dort Auto zu fahren, aus Angst, man fällt in alte Gewohnheiten zurück.


W. A. Jeffrey said...

If you are ever bored, you can look up the story of why different countries drive on different sides of the road.

I have been thinking that in order to speed up the adjustment phase and learn all the intricacies of SA driving it would be worth the time and money to sign up for driving classes. Especially since I am planning on living in SA long term.