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"Keep Left" road safety campaign

A Skye woman was injured on her way to work in Portree when someone driving on the wrong (i.e., right-hand) side of the road struck her car and pushed it into the roadside ditch. It took more than half a dozen firefighters to free her.

Starting the "Keep Left" campaign, she said it "was not about 'knocking tourism' in the Highlands, but trying to make the roads safer for everyone - both visitors and residents." ... "We want to urge people to take that bit more time looking at the landscape while the car is stopped, and then getting back into the car driving mode when they have got back into the car and back on the road."
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-47851582

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, epitd,

Looking at the wreckage of that Hyundai, I'd say that Ms. Anslow was very fortunate to get away with just some bruises and a sprained ankle!

If there's one good thing that can be said about those single track roads with passing places, it's that you never end up in the wrong lane.

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
5191 posts

So glad the woman wasn’t hurt worse! Gawking and driving don’t mix, just as with any other form of impaired driving. And whichever side of the road pertains to the country in which one is driving, it’s the responsibility of a driver, for everyone’s sake, to stick to that side, except if lawfully and safely passing.

We have an awful lot of folks in the US who don’t keep right. And on wide, multi-lane roads, drivers who stay in the left lane unnecessarily are a problem. Brock Uayes used to call them Left Lane Bandits. Right Lane Bandits in the UK are outlaws. Get on the correct side of the road and stay there, or don’t be driving!

Posted by
2 posts

I'll share this with my social media people, but is there anything else we can do? I know when I was in Skye last year, there were many sheep killed because of tourist not understanding how to drive in rural Scotland and one major car accident.

Posted by
67 posts

I want to search for this before I go to Scotland, but does anyone know of an app that simulates driving on left? It would be nice to practice a bit and get the gist of it before actually doing it.

Posted by
6160 posts

Scott, I think that would be even more confusing without having a right-hand driving vehicle. It makes a difference when you're actually sitting on the right to learn to keep your right shoulder to the opposite traffic.

Posted by
649 posts

Epitd, thank you for sharing this. The Keep Left campaign is an excellent idea, and Ms Anslow is to be admired for rallying people after her experience.

I’ve driven quite a bit in Scotland and England, and find that a manual transmission (which I prefer anyway) helps me concentrate on the driving more.

Mike, you’re right about the single track roads with passing places. They force drivers to pay attention all the time to share the road. My two weeks in the Outer Hebrides taught me to enjoy them.

Scott, there are a lot of dash cam driving tours of Scotland on YouTube. Perhaps these will help. Here’s one focusing on the single track roads in Harris. And the scenery and music isn’t bad either :)

Harris driving tour

Posted by
6 posts

This is good information. I am spending a week in Dublin next month before heading to Edinburgh for a conference and am renting a car for six days while there. I spent three years while stationed in Japan right hand driving (81-84) and in 88 a month in England on vacation while stationed in Italy so I do have experience but it has been quite a long time. I drive a stick shift now so intend to rent once since it is cheaper and like was said, I think it will help keep focused. I just purchased a dash cam for my car here in the US but I think I am going to wait to install it in my car and take with me to Ireland and use in the rental car while there. Could produce some very interesting vacations movie material.......

Posted by
5697 posts

When I drove in the UK with my then-12-year-old, her job was to keep reminding me "Left! Drive left!"

Posted by
2801 posts

Ah, Laura B, that brings back memories of a family vacation when I was 14. I don't know if this is legal nowadays, but our family had rented a car on the continent and brought it on the Calais-Dover ferry for the England portion of our trip.

So, not only was Dad inexperienced in driving on the left, he was doing it from a driver's seat on the wrong side of the car. Mom sat in back to mediate sibling squabbles, and my job as eldest kid was to sit in the front passenger seat and tell Dad when it was safe to pull out and pass slow vehicles on two-lane country roads. Being 14, I had not yet learned to drive and my ability to judge distance and speed were, shall we say, somewhat lacking. It's lucky we all lived to tell about it.

This is why I try to avoid driving altogether in foreign countries. So far, I have not driven in any foreign country. I always use bus, train, boats, day-trip type van services, lots of walking, subways, taxis. You name it. Even in major USA cities - I don't do cars. I may miss a few things. But, I enjoy my travel experiences more. Less worries.

Posted by
2801 posts

Hi Sun-Baked, thanks for that perspective. Having done it both ways, I know there's a lot to be said for the enjoyment of traveling on public transit.

Posted by
31318 posts

The "Keep Left" campaign is a really good idea and a good reminder especially for tourists who are not used to driving on the "correct" side of the road. I suspect some drivers used to driving on the right may be a bit "overconfident" in terms of their ability to drive on the left.

I've never had the benefit of a "co-pilot" when driving in the U.K. and have found that it takes a lot of concentration. I try to constantly remember that I'm now driving on the other side of the road and the "rules" are different (ie: no turns on red lights, enter roundabouts in the opposite direction, etc.).

The problem most of us have is we have been driving for years in a particular fashion. With little to no training - we tend to automatically revert to our normal driving mode even if mentally we know better.
I am afraid that I will have to take a driving class when I eventually get a new car! I have been driving my near ancient car for so long while the car companies have made many significant changes thanks to computer technology. I may have to wait for the "self-driving" cars that are soon coming.

Posted by
5457 posts

A campaign is nice, but the target audience will likely never see it. More interesting is that rare is driving on the wrong side an issue, but rather in turns, getting into the wrong lane.

If you are considering driving in the UK or Ireland, my advice is:

  • Know how to drive a stick well.
  • Have a copilot to keep you in line
  • Drive conservatively, a bit slower, resist passing, plan out multi-lane roundabouts well ahead.
  • Pay particular attention when turning, you will go into the wrong lane.
Posted by
2801 posts

I especially agree about turns. One rainy morning when I'd already parked in a place that turned out to be members-only so I had to pull out and find a different parking lot, my mind was on getting the car onto an appropriate piece of real estate. To pull out and enter the proper driveway, I had to make two consecutive right turns.

In the USA, of course, right turns are simple and unimpeded. Focusing on my goal, my judgment faculties forgot that right turns in the UK are the equivalent of left turns in the USA -- you have to yield to oncoming traffic. Fortunately the driver of the car to which I should have yielded braked in time to let me go ahead. She didn't have to come to a screeching halt, but she probably had a few choice words about the rude person who cut across in front of her.