The Independent Golfer

Excerpt from CHAPTER 6

First, Look Right

...every American knows that, if you rent a car in Scotland, you will need to drive on the left side of the road. This is, in fact, not as daunting a requirement as you might be led to believe. After all, once you are on a highway, driving down the left side with oncoming cars whizzing past you on your right, it is not really difficult to remember to stay on the left. You can get the hang of this in the first 10 seconds.

The problems come when you try to get onto the highway in the first place. My wife and I had been in Scotland for about an hour. We had signed all the rental papers, loaded our Nissan Micra with our luggage, adjusted the seats and rear view mirrors, and found the exit from the rental car park onto the frontage road. I carefully looked left to verify that oncoming traffic was clear and then began to inch out onto the road, dutifully aiming at the traffic lane farthest to the left. Just as my wife screamed I looked right to see the huge flat front of a double-decker bus bearing down on our tiny car. Stomping the break and stalling the engine, I got the car stopped in time to allow the bus driver to swerve around us and go on his way, undoubtedly cursing at the bloody foreigner that almost put him well behind his schedule.

The exits from rental car lots may be the most dangerous places for American drivers in all of the UK. As a driver new to this left-side-of-the-road thing, it is not enough to think through where you should be going. You also need to be aware of where those other cars are coming from. You need to change your driving habits, like that one about looking to the left first for oncoming traffic. You need to look to the right and not the left as you enter an intersection. That’s where they’ll be coming from.

Another feature of driving in Scotland that is unusual for most Americans is the roundabout. Roundabouts turn out to be....

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