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Driving Practice Near Edinburgh Airport

My husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland starting next week and are renting a car. We are picking up our car near the Edinburgh airport.

Is there a nice empty parking lot or industrial park near the airport where we can get a feel of the car and driving on the left?


Posted by
7012 posts

I don't know but I can tell you that it's not that difficult. You will get the feel of driving on the left once you start out of the parking lot. And really, you're better off getting your practice in by driving on an actual road and just taking it slowly at first. A parking lot will not really help. I would suggest before you leave, have the agent show you where the gear shift is, windshield wipers, lights, etc. That makes it easier.

My biggest problem when I was driving in England this year was that the gear shift on the rental car was located in the same spot as the windshield wipers on my Subaru Outback. The first few days when it rained, I would turn on the wipers, but because I instinctively grabbed the gear shift, I wound up shifting into Neutral. :-) I soon got the hang of it, but stuff like that can be an annoyance.

Posted by
672 posts

You'll be okay as long as you don't head into Edinburgh. If you can pull out of the rental lot successfully, just have a good navigator (or at least sign spotter) to help. You get constant reminders of which side to be on (your position in the car, nearby cars, signs, etc.). Typical problems are when you are the only one on the road, are turning right at an intersection, or encounter an empty round-about. While you're warming up, try to be cognizant of traffic behind you, using passing places to let them by. Most country roads, even single tracks. are 60mph limits, so don't be angry at people wanting to pass you. Also, if someone passes you on the left because you are going slow in the fast lane, you're the one that is liable for a ticket - I wish the US had that law!
Most rental cars come with pre-damaged left front wheels and scratches on the left side mirror. Inspect for damage before you take possession, but look at that kind of damage as a feature.

Posted by
2497 posts

One problem we ran into with a rental car was not knowing how to get it into reverse. It was no problem pulling out of the rental car parking lot but we pulled into the wrong toll booth miles later and found we didn’t know how to put the car in reverse. Luckily it was a quiet area without much traffic passing through. We put on our emergency flashers until we figured things out. I am laughing now but we were both pretty panicky at the time.

Posted by
4297 posts

What day of week and what rental company? We picked up ours one tram stop from the airport at Arnold Clark. It was a Sunday morning in an industrial area and we had the side roads to ourselves. Having said that, you will likely catch on quickly. Once you're on some main roads you'll be following traffic which makes it easier to be aware that you're driving on the other side. Personally, the biggest challenge I faced wasn't driving on the left, but the narrower roads and unfamiliar signs. You won't figure out those in a parking lot.

Posted by
1664 posts

Depending where you pick up the car, you should be able to 'drive' a few of the routes around on Google Streetview.

This should give an idea of how the roads are laid out, and you can start familiarising with some of the signs. If you have driven in Europe before British signs tend to follow that pattern, just adapted for being on the left.

Posted by
4159 posts

Frankly , practicing driving on the left in a parking lot won't help much , you could do that at home in the left lane of a multi lane road . There are , however; a few things that may help you . You will be driving a car that has a right hand steering wheel so you will be operating the car from the right . The tendency for American drivers is to drift to the left , and bang the left front wheel into the curb . ( most roads in the UK are curbed ,few soft shoulders , even in rural areas .) If you graze them at low speed , youll scuff up a tire or bang a wheel , but at higher speed you'll likely wreck the wheel , which will kill the day waiting for a replacement so you can go on . The trick is to stay as close to the center line , now on your right , as possible . There is a learning curve involved in UK driving . Some people adapt more quickly than others , but keep that in mind . The key isn't that you are driving on the left, that isn't the major issue it is made out to be , The real issue is that you are seeing everything in what is essentially a mirror image of what you are used to , and that is where the confusion lies . You must remain patient and alert . One other tool which will help before you go . There are numerous videos on YouTube of real life drivers navigating roundabouts ( which can be as small in diameter as a large basketball to large ones with multiple lanes , traffic lights ,and four to six exits Watching and understanding these videos will be helpful as well as learning about road markings and UK traffic codes, Lastly , a GPS , or Satnav ,as its known in the UK will be a great help. I've made three trips to the UK in recent years and always used a car there , averaging about 2500 miles each time . Some tense times at the start , ( Watch series one , episode one , of the much loved series , " Doc Martin " for a taste ) but worth every moment !

Posted by
1664 posts

I would add, that you will have the best driver's aid for driving on the other side of the road and or car.
A passenger.

The extra pair of eyes can be a real help.