We all probably know that the Philippines is a Left-Hand-Drive (LHD) country. This means that the steering wheel is on the left side of the cabin. Another country that comes in an LHD format is Vietnam. Thanks to a rare set of circumstances and thanks to Ford's Ranger Raptor Arabian in Mui Ne media drive we got the chance to legally drive a Right-Hand Drive vehicle in an LHD country. A rather odd experience but after 10 minutes or so of driving and constant reminders to stick to the right side of the road, it all becomes second nature.
The first thing you will do especially coming from an LHD country is, you will automatically and near instinctively want to enter the vehicle from the left side. But since Ford lent us an RHD Ranger Raptor, the pickup truck’s driver’s seat was on the right side of the vehicle. Once you train yourself that the driver’s seat is on the right side getting in and out of the vehicle becomes easier. It also helped that the vehicle had no tint, which made looking for the driver's seat much easier.
Almost all the controls you are used to in an LHD vehicle will be swapped around in an RHD car. A perfect example of this would be the signal lights. If you want to signal where you are going, you will need to pull or push the right signal stalk. But this isn’t the case for an RHD as its signal stalk is found on the right. More often than not and if you don’t take mental note of it you will be activating the wipers. All it takes is a constant reminder that the controls are swapped around and it will be easier to get used to it.
Driving an RHD vehicle in LHD country puts you as the driver in quite the predicament. The normal guides that you use to drive an LHD are now gone and you will have to use the right side of the road to center the vehicle. This can be daunting, especially when overtaking as you are closer to the vehicle you are passing than normal. It also applies to vehicles that are parking on the side of the road. More often than not you will end up crossing the centerline of the road and entering the opposing lane.
Turning left was also a difficult situation as you can't see where you are turning to. Judging how far you are from the curb becomes even more difficult as your vision becomes limited. The best way to compensate for this is to have a co-driver in the vehicle to help you with the distance. It also pays to get used to the width of the vehicle that you're driving. Luckily for us, the Ranger Raptor's dimensions were pretty easy to get used to an none of us hit the curb.
The shifting gears, reversing, and putting on your seatbelt was also a difficult situation. If you are coming from an LHD country the shifter will be to your right. That isn't the case of an RHD vehicle as the shifter is now to your left. This makes looking for the gear lever slightly more difficult and you will have to train your left hand to do the shifting.
Parking was also a difficult time as it was hard to see the left side of the car. This made reversing and entering a parking slot forward hard. But luckily for us, the parking spaces provided for the vehicles were big and forgiving. Big enough that we could get away with a rather shoddy parking job. Even when reversing it was a challenge but the inclusion of a backup camera help tremendously as it had predictive guidelines that help all of us who drove place the car properly within a parking spot.
Driving on the wrong side of a car in an LHD country was a daunting task. It took a lot of mental adjustments and a couple of LHD driving habits had to be relearned for the RHD layout. But overall it was a rare and great experience as only in certain countries are you legally allowed to drive a car with its steering wheel on the wrong side of the vehicle.