Saturday, December 18, 2010


The Great Ocean Road
I have just one cosmic question to throw out into the Universe:  “Why doesn’t the whole world drive on the SAME side of the road?”  I don’t care who’s right or wrong; I don’t care if it’s on the right or the left…just choose a side!  It would make life so much simpler for those of us who travel and spend life straddling two countries that drive on opposite sides of the road.  Try as I may, I’m just not ambidextrous when it comes to driving!

Shortly after I arrived in left-driving Australia, a 29-year-old visiting Frenchman was on trial for driving on the wrong side of the road (France drives on the right) hitting a 20-year-old driver and killing her. The judge gave the driver, a suspended 18-month jail sentence having compassion on him for having to live with life-long guilt, knowing he had ended the life of a young woman.  Perhaps she would still be alive if the whole world just agreed to drive on the same side of the road.
20-yr-old Asha Wood killed by visiting Frenchman

Australia tries to help those of us who are "right-handed-driving-impaired" with signage from time to time. For instance, when you drive the windy Great Ocean Road (which we did last April), you will see signs along the way reminding you of where you case you had forgotten!  It really is easy to forget at times.  There are so many gorgeous places to stop and look at along this two-lane road, (like The Twelve Apostles), that when you get back in your car, it is so easy to hop on the right hand side of the road without even thinking! I'm embarrassed to admit how often I do this, especially when there are no other cars on the road to give you a hint!

Here I am in Ireland...they wrote notes on the streets just for me!
When I was in left-driving Ireland last year, I didn’t do any driving, but I certainly did my share of walking.  Did you know that when drivers drive on the opposite side of the road you are used to, that it affects the way you walk?  Actually, it affects the way you cross the road and Dublin knows it.  That’s why the cross walks are painted with the words, Look Right or Look Left, assisting the weary international traveler who is “walking impaired.”

Okay…so I grew up in the U.S. where traffic drives on the right side of the road.  When I was a child, I grew up hearing my mother tell me over my shoulder, “Don’t forget to look both ways!”
“Mo-om,” I whined, “I am!” 
“And remember to look to the left just before you cross,” she continued.

Well, now I find myself in Australia.  Every time I come to a cross walk, I get so confused; my head spinning with so many questions…What side of the road are the cars driving on?  Which way should I be looking?  As the questions flood my mind, hesitation sets in as I struggle to make the correct decision.  In spite of all of this, I can’t tell you how many times I just about stepped in front of a moving vehicle!  After so many close calls, I finally started repeating to myself before stepping off the curb, “Look right.”  A lesson I learned well from my time in Ireland.

This guy looks just as confused as I am!
So, now I think I have everything under control.  Always drive on the LEFT.  The driver’s side of the car is always on the RIGHT.  Before I cross the road…Look Right.  When I walk on a road, walk on the RIGHT side, facing the oncoming traffic.  I’m a pro, right?  Wrong!  I neglected one more rule of the “road” when walking.  When walking on the sidewalk or the mall, or down a corridor…walk on the LEFT!  Argh!  Left… right… left… right.  Now I’m really confused!  I thought I always had to walk on the right, and now I find I always have to walk on the left as well?  The simplest way to explain this is to imagine yourself in the mall…we walk as though we are cars in traffic.  Rather than trying to explain it further…think about it!

Are you as confused as I am?  Now do you understand why I started out this entry to my blog with the cosmic question, “Why doesn’t the whole world drive on the SAME side of the road?”  If they did, there wouldn’t be a need for this blog entry and there wouldn't be a song called, “Pedestrians is Another Word for Speed Bump!”

Time to face my fears and go for a drive!  Care to join me?