All this week Cam made me drive him around so I could get used to spending time on the wrong side of the road. 😉
It worked out well – I didn’t have to worry about where I was going, Cam would tell me, so I could concentrate on simply not hitting things.
So what are some of the differences?
Left turns take some getting used to. Once I was at the front of a left turning lane controlled by traffic lights and began turning into oncoming traffic. Cam just about wet himself.
Whenever I reverse the car I can’t help but look over my left shoulder, usually hitting my head in the process (remember that you sit on the left side of the car here!).
You’re permitted to turn right at red lights here (if traffic is clear of course). Sydney has a similar rule (but for left turns obviously). I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s not allowed in Melbourne.
Speed limits are treated as ‘suggestions’ here. 65 mph (around 105 kph) is the typical limit on the highways but the traffic tends to move significantly faster – maybe 10 or 15 mph faster. It’s not uncommon to see people above 80 mph (128 kph).
Indicators are considered optional.
Surprisingly, I feel quite safe on the roads, even at speed. Although drivers are a little unpredictable they are much less aggressive and make room if you need it. Contrast to Melbourne where everyone “defends” the space between them and the car in front. 😉
The highway system is terrific, there are highways going everywhere. The roads, and lanes, are wide and relatively well signed – once you get used to the terminology and layout (“clover leaf” entrance and exits ramps are abundant). Melbourne does have better surfacing though, many of the highways here are quite rough and noisy.
Stop signs are used liberally on smaller roads. I came to a five way intersection the other day controlled completely with stop signs. The rule is that whoever gets there first goes first. Despite the unnatural feeling it somehow works. If two (or more!) drivers think it’s their turn to go then at least they’re moving slowly and can sort it out.
All in all, once you get used to getting in on the left side of the car, driving on the right and thinking in miles per hour it’s really enjoyable driving here.