This is a follow on from my blogs on preparing for a USA Road Trip, but it is equally relevant to anyone going to another country and especially where they drive on the opposite side of the road to what you are used to.
It is very easy when you relax into your trip and get up in the morning, to accidentally start driving on the wrong side of the road and many people even in New Zealand have had accidents and even died by losing concentration and automatically driving on the wrong side of the road because they have been doing it for years at home.
The thing that struck me on my first driving experience in the USA was that the traffic lights are often in the middle of the intersection. In New Zealand they are before the intersection, so I almost stopped in the middle of the road.
One of the things on the top of my preparation list was learn the key elements of the US Road Rules. I had my navigation but it wasn’t going to tell me who had right of way. The rules work really well for you once you understand them.
One that was really interesting is 4-way intersections and we found loads of those. The rule is whoever gets there first has right of way, so you really have to pay attention when you get to them.
Another rule that works really well is that you can turn right at a red light if the way is clear, unless there is a sign saying you can’t at that particular intersection. Make sure you come to a complete stop first, I’m told police are often hiding waiting for people to drive straight through.
A rule that I thought was really good on the Interstates was that if a car was broken down on the side of the road, you have to change lanes to give them space.
Whichever country you go to, its worth spending half an hour to make sure you know the basic road rules. Relax and enjoy but don’t relax too much. I was driving onto a major intersection a couple of weeks ago and the nav said turn sharp left, so I did and found myself facing a one way highway full of traffic coming straight at me. I managed to back out safely, but it reminded me of the importance of staying alert at all times. Having said that, I really enjoyed the road trip and the little bit of preparation beforehand made a big difference.