The other side of the world, the other side of the road

Recently, over twenty five years since I sat my first drivers license road test as a nervous 17 year old, I sat another one, this one on the other side of the road as a more nervous 40-ish type. They might call it the right side here, but as far as I am concerned from twenty five years and three countries of residence all requiring forward motion on the left hand side of the road – its the wrong side for me.

It turns out that eight months after I arrived here in the Peach State and four months before the cut off for driving in Georgia on an international license (thank you Hong Kong) I have achieved the equivalent of driving ambidexterity – in fact I am a little put out that my license doesn’t specifically state that.

Seems you can teach an old dog new tricks.


Certain information has been covered for security purposes and to save you from my many chins –      NOT PRETTY

I am even more disturbed that it includes a section for height, weight and eye colour, well I don’t mind about the eyes and height.  I now understand and appreciate the many Facebook and Twitter New Year’s resolutions that in January that said something like ‘I resolve to weigh what it says on my drivers license’ . I took that as the OK to fudge a pound or two or you know twenty because I really am not used to the whole world of pounds. Have I mentioned I think the US should move to the metric system so we can work in numbers under 100 when we are discussing weight issues? If not, consider it done.

The wait was semi deliberate. Americans who move to Georgia have 30 days to get their new license, they of course don’t need to sit two tests – written and behind the wheel. They just front up with several piles of residence proving documents, wait their three hours in the DDS queue and then get their new shiny, peachy license. We had to provide relevant visas and documents in our possession, of course, plus some that were not in our possession, nor available to us on our current visas. Cue the American favourite – lawyers – correct we had to get lawyers involved to get our drivers licenses.

In the beginning of my driving journey here it was often tricky, a bit headachy and there were one or two moments with vocal small people trapped with me inside a moving vehicle when

  • I thought a driverless car was overtaking me
  • Wincing when making a left hand turn across traffic, even though in theory I can see all the oncoming traffic I still can’t shake the feeling that a car will t-bone me from behind in the left hand lane
  • A casual walk by of the the front passenger side of the vehicle just to check everything was OK, not at all because I thought it was the drivers side
  • Actually opening the front passenger door to get in to drive place something important in there before proceeding to drivers side
  • Getting into the passenger side, you know, just for the sake of it, to see what’s going on (just once)

That’s all before we talk about the centre / center suicide turning lane. This in theory is a turninglanebrilliant invention as a middle lane between the left and right hand side of the road that a car from EITHER SIDE of the road can enter while waiting to make a turn to a side road or driveway not at a major intersection. This ensures that traffic can continue to flow freely on both sides of the road and is not held up by a car waiting to turn on a busy road. However – it is possible to have a head on collision totally legally in the ‘turning’ lane. Some of these lanes are two lanes wide – you can imagine I try to avoid where possible.

So I thought it was prudent to wait a few months to familiarise myself with the local traffic ways before I took my own on the road testing. I was gratified that I was not discriminated against and the DDS also made me wait three hours after my pre-booked appointment time to conduct said testing.

Now I may no longer have my NSW drivers license but I have two current and valid drivers licenses and one has a picture of  a peach on it.


10 responses to “The other side of the world, the other side of the road

  1. “Actually opening the front passenger door to get in to drive place something important in there before proceeding to drivers side” That made me laugh out loud – I DO THAT ALL THE TIME!

  2. This is the one that made me laugh… Getting into the passenger side, you know, just for the sake of it, to see what’s going on (just once). I can just see you doing that! In fact, I have also done that! 🙂

  3. I miss center turn lanes. 😦

  4. Squirrely Hawthorne

    I’ve been in SA almost 5 years and walked to the wrong side just yesterday. I like to open the glove comparent (cubby) and pretend I needed to make sure some important thing was in there – so hard to do that from the other side of the car.
    I must say I think I prefer driving on this side (the wrong side, obviously), but I do greatly miss something you failed to point out – right on red. Dont you just love that?!

    • Dear Squirrely – thank you for your comment. Right on red wouldn’t work in SA and I cringe to think what left on red would do to the already confused driving populace. We do have some left on red (when sign posted) in Aus, I think it is an excellent initiative, I am in full support of right on red while driving on the right side of the road.

  5. I have lived in NYC over 10 years and have yet to get my US license. If I’d been living anywhere else, I’m sure I would have done it, but the thought of not only dealing with all of the left/right issues (um…ROUNDABOUTS! cue panic) but doing that in New York traffic? Uh-uh, not this girl.

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