Thursday, May 5, 2011

Driving in Australia

Overall, I think this went better than expected.  We’ve been here long enough to get used to what side of the road cars drive on, as well as what side of the aisle at the grocery store you push the trolley down, what side of the escalator you walk up and which side you stand, which side of the 2-lane bike lane to be in.  Driving on the left seems relatively normal now.  But it still throws both of us that the drivers of said cars are on the right side, the US passenger side.  Often, if there’s a child, or a dog, in the front passenger seat, I’ll do a double take, momentarily stunned at who’s driving.  For Dan, this manifests itself as a desire to drive really far to the left.  His subconscious mind thinks the majority of the car is to his right, as it is in the US, so he attempts to place himself left of centre.  Meanwhile, reality is still occurring, and the majority of his car, off to the left, is perhaps driving on the shoulder (when we were lucky enough to have one).  For me, I still want to get in the wrong side of the car.  Most of the time we were both fine, but I could tell when Dan was getting a bit tired of driving. 

Both of us only had one instance of pulling out into the wrong lane, and both times there was no one else around to notice, thankfully.  For Dan, it was at night pulling out of a driveway, and he didn’t even get all the way into the wrong lane before I told him to shift over.  For me, I backed out of a driveway into the wrong lane, and went for a couple car lengths thinking something wasn’t right, when Dan told me to shift lanes.  No harm done though.

What affected both of us the most though, the first couple days, was the amount of tension we experienced while driving.  Your entire being is screaming that this isn’t right, and I couldn’t drive for more than a couple hours before my shoulders would become really sore.  You’re also hyper-aware, and need to remain so, because any instinctual move could put you in the wrong lane.  So driver fatigue sets in a lot sooner.

But we survived, and by the last day I was able to drive without both hands rigidly fixed at 10 and 2.

4 comments:

  1. Oh, right. Dan and I went on vacation over Easter. Posts on that yet to come, as soon as I sort through all the photos...

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  2. i LOVED driving on the left side! for whatever reason it made more sense for me, but i definitely forgot which side of the car to get in to....

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  3. The first time I took Becky's car out for a drive in Japan, I got two blocks and had to park the car. My knees were shaking, I was sweating profusely and I wanted to cry... literally. I was traumatized by the experience but eventually got the hang of it. Only once did I get into the wrong lane, and I quickly had to switch as I was about to be hit by another car. The thing that never got easy for me were the easy lefts and cross-traffic rights.

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