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One of my not-so guilty pleasures is to watch Australian dash-cam video compilations; the fun part is to try to figure out all the different driving rules.

As a North-American driver, I would be scared out of my wits trying to drive on the left side.

This leads to my question:

Let's say I decide to take a vacation to any left-side driving country like Australia, New Zealand or the UK and want to rent a car, are there driving schools that cater to tourists? Let's say a couple of hours courses to get up to speed on regulations and stuff like that?

Or the other way around, a tourist from Australia comes to North-America.

Do such things exists?

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    I don’t know the answer to your question, but I have not found it that difficult to switch (UK, Ireland, South Africa, Namibia), even with a manual transmission. The main problem is where there are no visual references and sometimes by habit you go to the wrong side, and I think only practice will cure that. That said, going directly when jet-lagged to driving on the “wrong” side in a big city can indeed be stressful. – Spehro Pefhany Dec 28 '19 at 14:57
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    The best way to "acclimatize" is to start on roads with a reasonable amount of traffic (not deserted ones!) but with simple navigation issues, i.e. UK "A" roads and motorways, not an inner city. FWIW In the UK the are some large "drive on the left" warning signs near airports etc, at potential danger spots where your instinctive behaviour may be wrong. – alephzero Dec 28 '19 at 16:14
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  • The difficult thing about Australia is the different turns which seem to be rather unique. Hook turns require you to turn right by moving into the left lane. They are also introducing P turns which are more complicated still. @SpehroPefhany have a look and see if you would find it easy when driving along a road with trams in the middle to instinctively know what to do. The different side of the road will be difficult for American drivers but Australia is more unique than just being left driving. – simon_smiley Dec 30 '19 at 7:27
  • @simon_smiley we have streetcars in Toronto so I think the Australian trams would be similarly confusing, especially at intersections where the streets don’t meet at right angles. – Spehro Pefhany Dec 30 '19 at 7:29
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There have been a lot of calls recently for some attempt to improve the driving standards of visiting tourists in New Zealand. The Automobile Association here has put together this video to try and address the need. To my knowledge there's no formal training program that visiting drivers are required to take, although it's being discussed.

I do know that the local driving schools are generally happy to take on specific training tasks for drivers of all levels of experience. Tell them what you want and they'll accommodate it. However, the instructors are frequently booked ahead for some weeks. You'd need to plan it before you arrived here.

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I can't say if something like that exists but in general I think you'll be fine. As for regulations, just stay within the posted limits (obviously the speedometer will match the units in the signs). Personally I'm from a right-side country and drove lefty on several separate occasions - you just keep up with everyone around you. It's actually really natural, you'll tend to not to want to drift into oncoming traffic no matter which side you learned on. If you're in a really rural area then you may shift sides on autopilot, but then you'll see another car barreling toward you and remember where you are.

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  • While I agree that in general it's no big deal, It's the emergency situations that will get you. EG Time and places where you don't have time to think, but instead rely on instinct. – Peter M Dec 28 '19 at 20:59
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I don't think you need a course. You just need to take it slowly and drive carefully at first. I spent two weeks driving in the UK and I found that it comes naturally because the roads, cars, and signage are all designed for it. The only thing to beware of is your reflexes in a sudden encounter. For example, I was driving on a narrow rural lane barely wide enough for two small cars when I encountered an oncoming vehicle at the crest of a hill. My instinct told me to pull right, which was exactly the wrong thing to do. There was no crash, but I remember the angry look on the other driver's face to this day. That was the only incident I encountered in two weeks of driving. Heck, I encounter more than that on my hometown streets. You'll do fine. Just make sure you rent a car with automatic transmission. You really don't want to be learning to shift a manual with your left hand at the same time.

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You really just need to know the main road rules and road signs. If you're visiting New Zealand, there's a tourist road code quiz you can do for free. The agency you rent your car from will have some advice and there's a booklet called 'Driving in New Zealand' which is multi-lingual and usually provided in the glovebox of your rental vehicle. Finally, you'll be amazed at how quickly you adjust. I live in New Zealand, but I've driven in Iceland, Canada, Australia, UK, Fiji and Italy (Sicily, to be precise, which was the most challenging). After the first half an hour, it feels perfectly natural. But, it does help if you know what the signs mean.

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