England has many differences with its French continental neighbor! Language, gastronomy, culture and … driving also, on the other side of the road!
Driving on the left: tips and tricks
First of all, if you have traveled with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you will come out on the right side and arrive directly on the left side of the highway that takes you to London (or elsewhere).
Before settling in England, I often shuttled between Folkestone and Calais. So I went from driving right to driving left two to three times a month. An English friend gave me this little thing that changed my life! Think “flywheel-sidewalk”! If you drive in England with a French car, remember that your steering wheel must always be on the sidewalk! By cons if you are in a rental car, do not have the same reflex!
In the roundabouts, you cannot go wrong. I know, these big roundabouts can be intimidating but if you keep in mind the “sidewalk”, and see more the other motorists go left, you will never take a roundabout in the opposite direction of the walk ! I assure you!
Bravo! You are in the roundabout in a good way. There is one thing you need to know: if you have to go out at the first exit of the roundabout, stay outside of it! Otherwise, take the inside of the roundabout by indicating it with your blinker on the right and change the blinker to the left when you want to go out.
Stay cool! You will see in a few hours, your brain will have the habit of rolling on the other side and it will quickly become a reflex.
Why roll on the left in England?
It is often wrongly believed that left-hand driving is exclusive to Great Britain. Yet nearly a quarter of the world’s countries have adopted this sense of conduct. While most of these countries are former British colonies, some like Japan are also seeing their flow on the opposite side!
Until the 18th century, everyone was traveling on the left. The most likely explanation would be the high number of right-handers who had to wield the sword. On horseback, it was easier to move left if the riders were suddenly to unsheathe their weapon.
It was during the French Revolution that the direction of the march changed. Napoleon imposed driving on the right in a large part of the European countries. The reason why Napoleon imposed driving on the right: he was left-handed and his handling of the sword during his travels would therefore be easier!
Countries colonized by the French therefore adopted right-wing driving and the British colonies kept their behavior to the left.
In America, right-wing driving was adopted as a sign of rejection of the colonial ties with the British Empire.
And of course, it is a bit of necessity that countries that do not yet have the right-hand traffic are forced to change: the majority of cars produced in the world showed the steering wheel on the left.
The latest European country to have changed the direction of traffic from left to right is Sweden, in 1967. The number of road accidents would have drastically decreased, drivers being much more attentive to driving.