So, I'm an American. I'm right-handed and I drive on the right side of the road :)

My clutch is the pedal furthest to the left, followed (from left to right) by the brake and the gas. I use my right hand to change gears, and my right foot to control the brake and the gas. People differ in regards to whether one should use the left or the right foot to control the clutch brake.

If I rent a car in the UK, obviously I'm going to be driving on the left hand side, but is the arrangement of the pedals and clutch different? It would seem to be awkward to use my non-dominant (i.e. my left) hand to shift gears and to use my left foot to control the brake and gas.

But, is this the case when I drive in the UK? The spatial relationship is eluding me right now.

  • 7
    Be prepared to spend a lot of time hitting the door every time you go to change gear... Otherwise it isn't too different!
    – Gagravarr
    Oct 22 '13 at 13:39
  • 3
    Getting used to driving on the opposite side takes considerably more time than getting used to change gears with the other hand. Oct 22 '13 at 14:13
  • 1
    @spakendraloman unless you're driving on deserted roads playing follow the leader made it far easier than I expected it would be. Oct 22 '13 at 14:55
  • 12
    "People differ in regards to whether one should use the left or the right foot to control the clutch": controlling the clutch with the right foot? Really?! I can't figure out how they can!
    – shard
    Oct 22 '13 at 15:28
  • 5
    There are only three things which turn out to be difficult, and one of them is not dangerous but sometimes embarrassing: 1. Turning onto an empty road from somewhere you've been parked. This is the one time you can't just follow all the other cars. 2. Not when you're driving but when you're a pedestrian crossing the road - your instinct can lead you to look the wrong way first and step into the path of a car! This will happen again when you return home. 3. When you're not the driver but the passenger and your instinct takes you to the driver's door (-: Oct 23 '13 at 9:33
  • The pedals are the same
  • The gear shift stays in the middle of the vehicle, so you'll have to get used to operating it with your left hand
  • The arrangement of gears also is the same, so top left is the 1st gear, etc.

Also, people who use the right foot to control the clutch should not be allowed to operate a can opener, let alone a car.

  • 2
    Something to note, cars manufactured in Europe and America have there indicators arm(?) (blinkers) on the left hand side of the steering wheel. Cars Manufactured in Japan have there on the right to correspond with the hand holding the wheel. Not a huge issue as most rental cars i have used in the UK are European made.
    – Stuart
    Oct 22 '13 at 15:45
  • 11
    @Stuart You made me laugh at the memory of driving in Japan. The only time driving on the wrong side really got to me was when I was turning at an intersection when I was first starting. However, I can't count the number of times I turned on my wipers instead of signaling to to turn.
    – Kevin
    Oct 22 '13 at 18:16
  • 2
    There are some classic cars which have a different pedal arrangement, but this is not something you will come across in a rental car
    – Phil
    Oct 22 '13 at 19:15
  • 4
    I once in Bournemouth went to the right instead of left when entering a roundabout and I faced a car... that old guy swore at me a lot.. good thing is I did not understand all of what he said.. Oct 22 '13 at 19:57
  • 2
    as far as blinkers are concerned, all you have to remember is they go in the same way you are turning the wheel. I have had blinkers on both left and right sides in a British car (and on a dashboard switch on a rewired mini)
    – SeanC
    Oct 22 '13 at 20:26

From my experience driving in Japan, the major problems you will run into are:

  1. When you are turning, especially if you are the first car in line. You aren't going to be driving down the road and just switch to the wrong lane, but when you are turning and not following a line of cars in front of you, habit kicks in and you can turn into the wrong lane.
  2. Gear shift being on the opposite side and foot pedals never troubled me, but I can't count the number of times I turned on the wipers instead of signaling or vice versa.
  3. This isn't strictly a driving problem, but crossing the street while walking is actually a bit of a problem at first. Instead of "look left->look right->look left->go" you have to switch it around and "look right->look left->look right->go". Several times I saw people almost get hit because they looked the wrong way and stepped out in front of a car.
  • When walking across a road, always assume the lane or road you need to cross is a one way lane/road and you do not know which way the traffic will come. And allow more time to cross than usual, it is the traffic on the far lane (from you) that seems to be much faster than you are used to. And be extra careful when back home. Sometimes you forget the 'normal' traffic.
    – Willeke
    Jun 9 '15 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Willeke, why in the world would you assume a road is one-way? Good way to get yourself killed by traffic in the far lane.
    – Kevin
    Jun 9 '15 at 17:48
  • If it is a two lane road, you have to look again in the middle of the road. Again as if you do not know where the traffic is coming from. And for me it works.
    – Willeke
    Jun 9 '15 at 19:06

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