Driving on the other side of the road
Now that I’m back to driving on the usual side of the car and road, I couldn’t help but compare it to when I was driving in the US.
I rented and driven two cars for a total of 3 days.
Th first car was the huge 5.3L V8 engine Chevrolet Suburban and the second was the 1.6L Hyundai Accent and I must say that I prefer the larger one. It felt safer and no one honked me at all when I drove it! I certainly got honked at a lot when I was in the Hyundai.
And I think I would have driven about 500km going around Monterey, Seaside, Marina, Watsonville and all the way up to San Francisco and back.
I noticed these few differences when I was driving in the US.
For one, it was definitely a matter of conscious competence and unconscious competence. I notice now that when I drive here in KL, I don’t think about it at all but I couldn’t not think when in the US. I was in full alert. It’s a don’t-talk-to-me-when-I’m-driving thing.
Two, I keep having to vocally tell myself to turn into the right side of the road or I will head into the left. I and do at that every turn, “turn into right, not left.”
Thirdly, I need to look out for cars coming from the left, not right when I’m making a turn. I was not so conscious of this and I nearly got myself into a major accident. It was dark and the roads were empty. I wanted to turn left, but I looked instead to the right for cars. I started off and suddenly there was a car coming very fast from the left. Thankfully, I stopped in time. The car gave me a long loud honk as he passed by. And I went, phew! that was a close one.
Fourthly, I notice that my brain took on a mirror image to what’s left and what’s right, so much so that when Google Map or Waze tell me to keep left, I’d keep right and conversely when it tells me to keep right, I’d think it’s left. Thankfully I have my son there to correct me.
Fifthly, my car unintentionally kept moving to the right. So I prefer to keep to the right lane so that I have some space and I don’t keep swerving into other people’s lane. But I kept in the middle lane when I was driving back from San Francisco and I keep having to adjust to keep the car to the left. I got honked once when my car got too much to the right. Also, when I’m stationary and when I want to turn out from the left to the right, my son keep telling me I that nearly hit the cars on my right. Thank God I didn’t.
And finally, when I was driving back from San Francisco in the night, my mind keep going into the emergency mode when I see car lights all coming from the right side of the road. Hence, the two-hour journey back was the most stressful one.
My blood pressure would have been on the high side because of driving in the US. But it was certainly an adventure and an experience but I’d stick to the left road and right side of the car for now.
Oh, one more thing to add is the funnniest and most embarrassing one: I’d walk to the wrong side of the car.
And I did that twice so far.
Once when the driver came to pick us up from the airport in Taipei, I walked over to the driver side and opened the door. I did the exact same thing when the Lyft (Uber alternative in the US) came to pick me up from the Monterey airport.
It was so, so embarrassing!