While cars in Britain drive on the left side of the road and are right-hand drive, cars sold in many other countries, including the majority of Europe, come in left-hand drive.
So, if you ever import a car from a foreign market, or your visiting Britain from another nation and you want to bring your car with you, chances are you’ll be driving a left-hand drive motor. You’ll still need to drive on the left side of the road of course.
Driving a left-hand drive car in Britain is perfectly legal but it could prove challenging, especially if you have no prior experience.
If you’re planning on driving a left-hand drive car in the UK anytime soon, check out these tips on making sure you get to grips with such driving experiences in a safe manner.
Check you have the right insurance
If you’re planning on importing a left-hand drive car to Britain, then you should check that you have a specific left-hand drive insurance policy in place for it. Insurance companies shouldn’t have a problem with you driving a left-hand drive car here, but they’ll need to be aware that you are driving such a vehicle. If you’re from somewhere in Europe that’s outside of Britain and you plan on visiting the country and bringing your car with you, you’ll need to check your local insurer covers driving in Britain. If it doesn’t, then you could arrange a temporary insurance policy, assuming you’re only visiting for a limited number of days.
Make sure you get headlamp adapters
Before left-hand drive cars can be driven on UK roads, they are legally required to be fitted with headlamp adapters. That’s because while driving on the left side of the road, the beams on such cars can dazzle oncoming drivers.
If your left-hand drive car is found to be used without adapters, fines can follow and you could invalidate your insurance. Fortunately, headlamp beam adapters are easy to get from retailers and they’re inexpensive.
Practice driving the car somewhere quiet
Driving a left-hand drive car on UK roads rather than a right-hand drive model will feel weird at first, largely because you’ll be much closer to the kerb. Chances are you’ll instinctively want to drift towards the centre of the road which you’re used to being closer to, but doing this could mean blocking oncoming traffic.
It’s important to resist this temptation and a good way to make sure it’s out of your system is to familiarise yourself with using your left-hand drive car before taking it on any busy roads. Practice on some more discrete roads or at a time where you know there should be virtually no traffic about.
Pay extra attention to the speed
While cars sold within Britain show the speed in miles per hour (mph), left-hand drive cars tend to show it in kilometres per hour (shown as km/h or kph).
You’ll have to factor this in and make sure you know what the local national speed limits are equivalent to in kilometres per hour so you don’t accidently speed. For instance, if you’re in a 30mph speed limit zone you should avoid letting the speedometer of your left-hand drive car exceed 48km/h.
Be really cautious overtaking
Of course you should always pay plenty of attention while overtaking a car, but it can be particularly tricky in a left-hand drive car when you’re driving on the left side of the road. That’s because you’re view of oncoming traffic to your right is simply not as clear as it would be if it was a right-hand drive model.
Make good use of your mirrors at all times and keep a good distance from any vehicles in front in case you find you’re unable to complete an overtake and have to return to your lane.