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Driving on the wrong side.

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Driving on the wrong side.

I have never driven on the right hand side before but a work trip to New Jersey next week requires me to get a hire car.
I am a confident driver and have been driving for many years but looking at google maps, I have myself convinced that I am not going to make it out of Newark airport!
Anyone got any tips?
30 REPLIES
nadger
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Registered: 13-04-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

I found driving a car in US & Canada a lot easier than driving my own cars in Europe - at least the steering wheel is on correct side.
Take particular care when you first pull onto road and after you've made stops and been out of the car.
Don't panic - you'll be fine
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

TIP: Whenever you go to get in to the car make sure you have a bag in your hand. Then, when you've opened the door and realise that you've gone to the passenger side instead of the drivers side, you can nonchalantly put the bag in the car and pretend it was intentional.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

I'm currently driving in the US and do so for up to 10 weeks a year.  I agree with nadger it presents no problems so long as you keep your wits about you. Driving rules vary from State to State so check these out with your rental company before you leave their lot.  One example is turning right on red at stop lights.  Some States permit this but others don't.  If you are flying into Newark I guess you might be heading for NY.  If so it's worth considering if you really need a car as public transport is very good.  Parking in NY is also not easy. Enjoy your visit Smiley Smiley
pierre_pierre
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Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

the main problem comes on the return you are concentrating hard to get it correct in the US, them you come back relaxed and forget you are not in America,
I  have done it twice when returning back from Europe after two weeks, didnt have an accident though, one was coming out of the Old Stansted terminal, the other from Southend Airport, tried to go up the wrong side at the start of a dual carriageway
Also get hold of a copy of the Driving rules. think you might get it from Halfords, lane rules are a lot different to UK, and generally speed limits are low
Moderator
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Re: Driving on the wrong side.

err don't close your eyes Cheesy
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 24-09-2008

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Nice thing about technology today you can 'street-view' the first few miles of your planned route before you leave home Roll eyes
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Quote from: artmo
If you are flying into Newark I guess you might be heading for NY.  If so it's worth considering if you really need a car as public transport is very good.  Parking in NY is also not easy. Enjoy your visit Smiley Smiley

No, its a small town in NJ called Bridgewater where our company has an office. I was there is July and didn't hire a car as I didn't relize how isolated it is!
Thankfully, I made mental notes of the route from hotel to office and back in taxis as I knew I would be back with a car, its just geting out of the airport and onto highway 22 that I am concerned about.
I arrive at lunchtime on Sunday but am planning on getting the train into NY to kill the afternoon and pick up the car late in the evening when traffic will hopefully be quieter!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

I have a tip:..
Hooooollldddd oonnnnnttttoooo ssssooooommmmmmeeeettthhhhiiiinnnnnnggggggggggg  Cheesy
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
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Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Huh
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Community Veteran
Posts: 18,547
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Arriving on a Sunday may help as the traffic will be lighter. I wouldn't worry about buying any guides in the UK.  Driving laws change frequently in the US and guides could well be out of date.
If you have any specific queries you could find the answers on the dept of Transportation site.
The maximum speed limit in the US is 70mph.  This is the maximum which you will generally only find on Interstates. Other speed limits are much the same as in the UK.  Where I am these vary between 25 and 60mph.
Don't miss spending some time in NY.  It's one of the most exciting capitals in the world Smiley Smiley
Community Veteran
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Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Make sure that you get a night's sleep, if you can, before driving in the USA. The flight over will leave you tired and liable to make driver mistakes, particularly if you've not driven there before.
Here are some tips http://www.kissimmee-us192.com/british/driving.htm
We often do fly drive holidays and normally check into a hotel for the night before picking up a car/RV for the remainder of the visit.
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-08-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

A few things to be aware of driving in New Jersey.
There are many more stop signs used there, where as here we would have a give way. You will need to concentrate hard to deal with these.
Junctions using stop signs take some getting used to. At a crossroads you can have 4 stop signs ( called 4 way stop) three stop signs at a T junction etc. The way it works is first car to stop is the first to go through then the second etc.
It is not good practice to wave other cars on out of turn.
As said earlier right turns at red lights are common. If not allowed at a particular junction there will be a sign that says "No Turn on Red"
On main roads in parts of New Jersey, left turns are not possible. To turn left you come off on the right and then come to a traffic light and go across the carriageway. they call these junctions panhandles.
Unlike most of the US, in New Jersey you will come across roundabouts (donuts). If you are not experienced driving on the right these take some thinking about at first. Bear in mind the locals are not very good at using them either.
Undertaking is commonly used.
Truck drivers are absolute maniacs, give them a wide berth.
If driving at dusk or dawn beware of deer on the roads. This applies to urban areas as well as rural. Deer are a major hazard on roads in this area. You will see many dead ones on the side of the road. if one runs in front of you expect a couple more to come after it too.
Keep money/change in the car for road and bridge tolls.
To find your way round is easy. They work on road numbers and direction. For example you could ll use I 78 W to travel from Newark to Bridgewater. Pick up a map of the area, they are not expensive.
American drivers are mostly very courteous (except truck drivers). They are big on giving way to pedestrians and the pedestrian will expect you to do the same.
I hope you are comfortable driving automatics!
DO NOT drive in New York City until you have some experience. Use the NJ transit. Park at Ironbound station in Newark and take the train to Penn Station which will bring you out at Madsion Sq
Garden.
Be careful in the Newark area, it is a dangerous place.
I hope this helps.

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Thanks for the tips, now I am really scared!
Superuser
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Re: Driving on the wrong side.

Whilst I can't give you any better advice than already given here, I can say don't be scared.  I drove in America for the 1st time in 2005 (which was also the last time I was there).  I followed an American friend from the car hire place to the hotel, then I drove to a restaurant and back that night with our American friend giving me some tips.  Over the next 2 weeks my wife and I drove around 1000miles between us, and we really enjoyed it.
Phil