Driving Right-Hand Drive in a Left-Hand Drive Country Is Awful

I’ve now owned two different right-hand drive vehicles here in America, where we mainly have left-hand drive vehicles. Many people ask me about the experience of owning a right-hand drive vehicle in a left-hand drive country, so today I’m going to give you my answer: I hate it. Deeply. A lot.

First, a little background. A couple of years ago, I bought an imported 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R from a dealership in Virginia called Japanese Classics. As this car was sold new in Japan, it was right-hand drive, which I figured would be kind of annoying, but not so bad. I was wrong. Oddly, I then purchased a 1989 Nissan S-Cargo from the same dealership, apparently wishing to replicate the experience.

Truth be told, both the Skyline and the S-Cargo were awesome cars, and I enjoyed them a lot. The Skyline was immensely powerful, and the S-Cargo was ridiculous and hilarious, and I truly wish I still had the latter. But the one thing I hated about both of these cars was that they were both right-hand drive.

The biggest problem with right-hand drive, of course, is visibility: There isn’t much. This especially becomes an issue with two-lane passing (a rarity in my life) and left turns (not such a rarity). A left turn at an intersection is a real problem because you can’t see around opposing left turners to decide whether it’s safe to go. You end up leaning over a lot.

There are other issues, too. Toll booths are a problem — and that was a big issue when I lived in the Northeast. When approaching the car, you often went for the wrong door — and so did your passenger. There was the unending attention you’d get for sitting on the "wrong" side of the car. And then there was a problem I didn’t expect: Lane positioning. When you drive left-hand-drive cars your whole life, you position yourself to the left side of your lane. You tend to do that unconsciously, too, when you’re in a right-hand drive car, which places half of your car in the lane next to you — or in opposing traffic. Not good.

I’ve spoken to some people who drive RHD cars daily, and nearly all of them say the same thing: You get used to it. Frankly, I never got used to it, but maybe you would if you drove more often than me. Really, though, I’d rather just have a left-hand drive car.

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