When I was in England, I was scared I’d look the wrong way and be run over by a car as I was trying to cross the street. That was because they drove on the opposite side. In Dublin, Ireland, I briefly thought about renting a car, but decided against it and opted for buses. While I was no longer afraid of being hit at a street crossing, I was not quite ready to drive on the flipside.
This time around, we decided to go on a road trip up the East Coast of Tasmania. While I was still very anxious at the thought, I decided to get behind the wheel. If we were to go on this road trip, I was not going to trust two strangers to drive the car registered under my friend’s name. As I have a lot of experience driving in all sorts of conditions, I figured it would be better if I at least took the wheel to get us out of the city.
I was a bit anxious at first. The brake pedal of the new rental car was very sensitive, which didn’t help; the first time I applied the brake, I nearly hit my head on the steering wheel from the force of it. The French girl’s inconsiderate comments on my driving only increased my stress levels. It was already hard enough to drive on the flipside in a city I didn’t know with a new extremely sensitive car (which was automatic – I normally drive standard and I kept wanting to drive with both my feet). When the girls started commenting, I was ready to throw the keys out the window and run away very dramatically. But don’t worry, I didn’t turn out to be a nutcase.
Thankfully, things got better quickly and I realized that it really wasn’t that hard. In four days, I only managed to drift in the opposite lane once… But I did have to keep reminding myself that the middle lane had to be on my immediate right.
Other difficulties included judging distances on the passenger side, avoiding activating the windshield washer blades when I wanted to signal and keep my left feet off the pedal (this one had more to do with just driving automatic). I thought roundabouts would be much harder to manoeuver than they actually were, it was all pretty straight forward in the end.
After 4 days of driving on the flipside, I must say I’m getting used to it. However, I would have needed more time to get used those crazy tassie’s roads… Snake-like highways with a limit of a 100 kms! Some of the unexpected curves were a nightmare as I didn’t have much time to bring down the speed before taking them on. Needless to say, there is no daydreaming while driving on Tasmanian roads.