Driving in England was probably the part of moving that Lance and I felt most anxious about. When you have driven for so long, the thought of switching everything to the other side seems impossible. We drive by instinct, using all our senses. We react when we see something out of the corner of our eye. We know where the other cars are without even looking. Driving on the left will mean learning all over again.
But, choosing not to drive would dramatically limit our life, so we know this is not an option and we just have to make it happen.
Our California driving licenses are valid for one year. We will need to take both the written and driving exams to get a UK license. Other Americans living in the UK have confirmed that passing the driving test is very difficult. Many of them took the driving portion multiple times prior to passing.
Lance actually took a driving lesson prior to buying the car. The teacher had a 6-speed Mini Cooper. Lance loved it, but we decided we needed a little more space and purchased a Land Rover. It is about the size of a Ford Escape. This is considered a big car in the UK and fills up the lane and most parking spots.
We have learned that driving on the left is not very difficult. The difference is easy to overcome as long as you pay attention. The challenges are the VERY narrow lanes, completely different signage (some signs we have no idea what they mean), every intersection is a circle, and not knowing where we are going. Also, there are no shoulders or parking spots. Cars just park right in the lane you drive in. Then in order to pass you have to drive through on-coming traffic to get around the parked car. Of course this happens very quickly and you are sure you will get side swiped in the process.
I am pretty sure I am the slowest driver in the UK at the moment, but I am determined to get good at this.
(more to come…)