How do you drive a British car? Is it with the left hand and foot or right?

  • So, I'm an American. I'm right-handed and I drive on the right side of the road :)

    My clutch is the pedal furthest to the left, followed (from left to right) by the brake and the gas. I use my right hand to change gears, and my right foot to control the brake and the gas. People differ in regards to whether one should use the left or the right foot to control the clutch brake.

    If I rent a car in the UK, obviously I'm going to be driving on the left hand side, but is the arrangement of the pedals and clutch different? It would seem to be awkward to use my non-dominant (i.e. my left) hand to shift gears and to use my left foot to control the brake and gas.

    But, is this the case when I drive in the UK? The spatial relationship is eluding me right now.

    Be prepared to spend a lot of time hitting the door every time you go to change gear... Otherwise it isn't too different!

    Getting used to driving on the opposite side takes considerably more time than getting used to change gears with the other hand.

    @spakendraloman unless you're driving on deserted roads playing follow the leader made it far easier than I expected it would be.

    @spakendraloman Does it? I did it several time to drive in Ireland, without any major problem. The first few hours after the switch (in either direction, even back home) you do feel you need to pay extra attention but after a couple of days, I would adapt completely and drive seemingly effortlessly. Besides, it's an entirely separate issue than getting used to change gears with the other hand, you can (and I did) drive on either side of the road with any car. If anything, the one time I used a right-hand drive rental felt somehow more awkward than switching sides with my own LHD vehicle.

    It does take a couple weeks to get completely accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, but be warned, it takes the same couple of weeks --- if not longer --- to get reacquainted with driving on the right side of the road when you get back.

    "People differ in regards to whether one should use the left or the right foot to control the clutch": controlling the clutch with the right foot? Really?! I can't figure out how they can!

    Operating the clutch with the left foot, no exception, is certainly the way it's taught where I learned to drive.

    @shard If your cars tranny belts out higher torque, you *really* dont need to 'leave the clutch while you hit the gas'. If you just take of your foot from the clutch gently, it will do. Most times, going by your feet, you dont even need to fully press the clutch pedal (Disengage the clutch fully) when shifting. Of course, other than at times when proving this can be done with either feet, I dont do it as a daily practice.

    @Annoyed Speaking from my experience, I don't think driving on the other side is a problem, really. The REAL problem is the reflex you have to develop in relation to which side you'll instinctively move to in case of an unpredicted event on the road. I think it takes considerably more time that getting used to switch gears with the other hand.

    There are only three things which turn out to be difficult, and one of them is not dangerous but sometimes embarrassing: **1.** Turning onto an empty road from somewhere you've been parked. This is the one time you can't just follow all the other cars. **2.** Not when you're driving but when you're a pedestrian crossing the road - your instinct can lead you to look the wrong way first and step into the path of a car! This will happen again when you return home. **3.** When you're not the driver but the passenger and your instinct takes you to the driver's door (-:

    • The pedals are the same
    • The gear shift stays in the middle of the vehicle, so you'll have to get used to operating it with your left hand
    • The arrangement of gears also is the same, so top left is the 1st gear, etc.

    Also, people who use the right foot to control the clutch should not be allowed to operate a can opener, let alone a car.

    Something to note, cars manufactured in Europe and America have there indicators arm(?) (blinkers) on the left hand side of the steering wheel. Cars Manufactured in Japan have there on the right to correspond with the hand holding the wheel. Not a huge issue as most rental cars i have used in the UK are European made.

    @Stuart You made me laugh at the memory of driving in Japan. The only time driving on the wrong side really got to me was when I was turning at an intersection when I was first starting. However, I can't count the number of times I turned on my wipers instead of signaling to to turn.

    There are some classic cars which have a different pedal arrangement, but this is not something you will come across in a rental car

    I once in Bournemouth went to the right instead of left when entering a roundabout and I faced a car... that old guy swore at me a lot.. good thing is I did not understand all of what he said..

    as far as blinkers are concerned, all you have to remember is they go in the same way you are turning the wheel. I have had blinkers on both left and right sides in a British car (and on a dashboard switch on a rewired mini)

    @Stuart: also, in my experience, Japanese cars sold in the European market (even the left-hand drive ones for the UK) usually have the blinker/wiper controls the American/European way round. Australia is the only place where I’ve encountered cars with both placements of blinkers vs. wipers.

    "cars manufactured in Europe and America have there indicators arm(?) (blinkers) on the left hand side of the steering wheel." 1000% incorrect. it simply varies by manufacturer and model, there is no standard.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM