Driving on the “Wrong” Side of the Road

The TT races have just finished on the Isle of Man and unfortunately there was a fatality during the last lap of the very last race. Usually the accidents occur not so much during the actual races but instead during the time when amateurs are trying out the course themselves. It is rather tempting to see what speeds you can reach when large sections of road are subject to no speed limit at all and the road in question is the actual race course. It is indeed every bikers dream.

Accidents do not solely occur due to speed; more often it is a lack of familiarity with the roads, and the side of the road upon which you are meant to be riding upon. There are signs placed everywhere which read “drive on the left” in numerous different languages. I know myself how easy it is to forget which side of the road you are meant to be on when you are used to driving in one country and then start driving elsewhere.

I drive a lot now in California as well as in the UK. (Cars, not bikes, I hasten to add.) I have to admit that I decided upon a two stage strategy when first driving in the USA. First, I just sat in the car as a passenger and paid detailed attention to specific routes. My theory was that I didn’t want to have two different things to worry about at once; paying attention to driving on the “wrong” side of the road was sufficiently absorbing a proposition for my focus without having to work out a whole navigation system at the same tome. Thus by the time I began to drive I at least knew where I was meant to be going. Also, I had got used to the car being on “that” side of the road.

I now find that I can switch from driving on the right to the left and vice-versa with relative ease. There are two provisos – I am always aware that I as the car driver should be near to the central white line as opposed to the pavement (this is a great tip for anyone driving abroad), and I pay extra attention when driving off from halt signs, as I find this is the time when it is easy to fall back upon instinctive patterns of driving.

If you take steps to make the job of driving on the “wrong” side of the road easier for yourself you put yourself into a position of driving with more confidence. To have driving confidence is important as otherwise you will drive erratically or hesitantly and risk being the cause of accidents. It is important when first spending time in a new place to familiarize yourself with the road systems before driving. It’s amazing how some things differ from one country to another.

One of the major differences between California and the UK is that in California everything runs on a very logical “grid’ system; most roads run north-south or east-west and if a road is one way then the next road along will probably be one way in the other direction. If you miss a turn it’s easy to work out how to get back on track. In the UK roads run in any which direction and they are anything but straight! The roads meander all over the place and they tend to be narrow, and there are a large number of roundabouts which serve to further confuse the issue.

My partner discovered just how difficult the roads on the Isle of Man can e when driving here for the first time – he got stopped by the police and breathalized due to having been reported for “erratic driving”. He had not been drinking at all; he was merely finding the road system more challenging than expected.

You need to be aware of how your mind works, and how driving in fact becomes habitual, because it is falling back upon habitual actions which causes accidents when driving in a different country. When you first learn to drive, everything is new and so you have to pay attention to every little thing and you have to consciously think about what to do and how to do it. As you become more used to driving your brain begins to store patterns of behavior, and these get stored in your subconscious mind. Now you begin to find yourself instinctively reacting to situations without having to logically think about it.

You eventually reach a stage of real driving confidence, such that you can more often get home and subsequently realize that you cannot even remember the drive home at all. Most people who decide to drive abroad are at this stage. They are comfortable and confident when driving; they don’t have to think about how to drive – they just drive. Now you arrive in a different country and have to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. You have to think about driving once more, you have to pay considerable attention to driving, and instead of learning something new you are adapting a well worn pattern of behavior. You are now acting in opposition to your instincts.

I have been driving in California on and off for a year now and I have noticed something interesting. When I get in the car which I usually drive when there I find it relatively easy to head for the correct side of the road, but when I was in a golf cart the other week it felt all wrong. It was clear to me that my new “pattern match” with driving in California was attached to the car and not to a golf cart. I had to learn a new pattern in the golf cart even though I had already learned a new driving pattern in the car.

A further observation I made was that each time I returned to the Isle of Man from California I tended to get into my own familiar car and slip into driving on the left with relative easeĀ…but when I borrowed a friend’s car, I really had to think about which side of the road I was meant to be driving upon.

This whole “driving thing” highlights how our brains store patterns of behavior in the subconscious mind, and how automatically we so often act. We think that we are focusing on driving, but in the main, we are not really focusing; we are acting instinctively instead.

It also demonstrates how difficult it is to alter habits. Although I had altered my “driving on the left” habit to allow myself to drive confidently on the right, this deviation from the original pattern only extended to one particular car, and definitely not to a golf cart. And because my initial deviation from my original driving pattern was in a different car, this left a “confused” instinctive response when driving yet another different car; I was now in the Isle of Man and so the pattern match was to drive on the left, BUT I was also driving a different car, and my pattern match relating to different cars was to drive on the right!

The fact is that habitual behavior is stored in your subconscious mind, and it takes a lot of logical effort and new and consistent practice of the required new behavior to override these deep rooted patterns. You can speed up the acquisition of a new habit with the help of hypnosis. Hypnosis allows access to your subconscious mind and so you are “getting into” the part of your mind where these habits are stored. With hypnosis you can also imagine yourself driving as you would like to do and each repetitive imagined situation is stored in your subconscious just as powerfully as an actual experience would be stored.

Your brain does not know the difference between something which is real and something which is vividly imagined. Thus if you want to learn a new habit or change an old habit you can train your mind easily and quickly using hypnosis and visualization.

Hypnosis is a normal and natural state of relaxation and you can learn to use hypnosis with the help of hypnosis downloads. Whether you are learning to drive for the first time, or if you are a timid driver, or if you are learning to drive on the “wrong” side of the road, hypnosis confidence downloads can be an enormous help in making the task a far easier one for you.

Roseanna Leaton, specialist in hypnosis downloads for driving confidence.