What Is It Like to Drive a Right-Hand-Drive Car in the U.S?

Since right-hand-drive (RHD) cars can now be legally imported into the U.S. (and they keep getting better each year), there might be more and more consumers interested in buying one. But if you live in a country where left-hand-drive cars are the norm, you might be wondering if it’s hard to drive a car where you sit on the “wrong side.” Here are a few key points on what it’s like to drive a right-hand-drive car in the U.S.

It’s a good conversation starter

If you do end up buying a RHD car, then be prepared to talk about it a lot. While there have been plenty of people all over the U.S. purchasing RHD cars since they became legal, they are mostly purchased by enthusiasts, so it’s not that common to see one every day.

You might actually get questions like, “Why is the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car?”
So just remember to nod and smile and let them know that the car is from a different county. But don’t be surprised if the attention gets old after a while.

1995 Nissan Skyline GTR R33 Vspec side
1995 Nissan Skyline GTR R33 Vspec side | Montu Motors

Turn signals and wipers

One common mistake when starting to drive a RHD car is getting the turn signal and wiper stalks mixed up. On RHD, some things are backward and your muscle memory (and regular memory) of driving a left-hand-drive car for years will naturally tell you that the turn signal stalk is on the left. It’s not.

In a RHD car, the turn signals are on the right and the wipers are on the left. It will take time to get used to but at least you’ll be really good at wiping away the non-existent rain on your windshield.

Parallel parking

From what some RHD owners say, parallel parking is actually easier in a RHD car. Since the driver’s side is closer to the curb, it’s easier to see the dimensions of the car and how close you are when parking.

And when your parking maneuver is done, you can just get out of the car step onto the sidewalk. No need to worry about dodging oncoming traffic and timing your exit from the car.

Left turns

According to Jalopnik, making a left-hand turn in a RHD drive is not that hard, you just need to lean over and look. However, it can still be tricky.

If you find yourself in a left-turn-yield situation, you might not be able to see the oncoming traffic to time your left turn correctly. In that case, you can wait for the yellow light to turn and then make your move, or if you have a passenger, just have them tell you when it’s clear to go.

1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III
1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III | Japanese Classics

Going through a drive-through

As you can imagine, going through a drive-through can be tough in a RHD car. Some RHD-car owners prefer to drive through backward, however, the restaurant owners might not like this.

If you’re alone when going through a drive-through, you’ll have to reach over to pay for and get your food. But if you have a passenger, then that will make a world of difference.

Shifting with your left hand

If you plan to buy a RHD car that has a manual transmission, then you’ll need to get used to shifting with your left hand. According to this story from Autotrader, you will get used to it pretty quickly as the shift pattern and pedal arrangement is still the same.

Man drives manual transmission
Driving stick shift | Motortion/Getty Images

Opposites attract

As we can see, owning a right-hand-drive car in a left-hand-drive world isn’t really too hard, it just takes some getting used to. After all, mail carriers have been driving on the other side of the car for years, so we’re sure anyone else can do it, it will just take some patience and practice.