Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Australia - Perth - Driving on the other (wrong) side

I had eluded earlier (way back in Bangkok) that at some point the reality of driving a right hand drive vehicle would come into play. That time is now!! It is amazing how strong my instincts are and I have to fight them every step of the way in order to keep from getting in an accident.

This starts from the moment you approach the car - from the wrong side. You then get in and reach to the wrong side for your seatbelt. Adjust your mirrors- with the wrong hand!! Back out of the driveway - well the mirrors are in the wrong place and send images that don't register properly in my brain so I slam on the brakes just to realize that it is my own car's image that I am afraid of hitting!

I must say though, that after 3 weeks of driving I no longer hit the windshield wipers every time I want to turn on my turn signal and it has been an equally long time since I turned on the back wipers to turn on the headlights. I am now even getting comfortable on the 5 lane freeway that I take at 100km per hour to go to water polo practice and return in the dark.

I am so impressed with the Perth road system. This city has doubled in size in 10 years, yet the many freeways and large roads still manage to carry the traffic. They have an interesting thing here where two lanes will all of a sudden merge into one lane without either party having the right of way. They just speed up or slow down and all happens easily. I shudder to think how this would work at home.

The main problem is trying to keep myself far enough over to the right. You do tend to drift left and so I drive as if I am right on the line to my right and this keeps me in the right spot. It also makes my fellow front seat Canadian passengers feel less like they are going to get taken out on a pole on their side. If I do drift then there is that annoying reminder from those little bumpy things that divide the lanes in these places (like California) where they never see or have to plow snow. The noise they give off when you hit them is enough to send you scrambling back into your lane.

One last funny thing that happened on the road the other day. My Dad is here for a couple of weeks and we were driving south of here touring the Margaret River region (yes lots of vineyards). We pulled on to a road that was under construction and had a speed limit posted at 80 km per hour. The road was pretty torn up and my Dad said he sure wouldn't want to be going down that road at 80. I said the first thing that came to mind which was "Well Dad, it's a good thing you're only 79!!!"

Bye for now, Holly

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