Tips for driving a right-hand drive car in China

Right-hand drive car

The long awaited, yet regularly delayed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is supposedly set to open by the end of 2017. While this is certainly good news, there is one thing to think about: which side of the road the traffic will drive on. As this article in the HKFP discusses, it might be on the right. Due to this, there is a good chance that Hong Kong and Macau drivers will need to get used to driving on the other side of the road. To help, here are six tips you can employ when driving a right-hand (RHD) drive car on the right side of the road.  

 

Be aware of how the traffic flows

This is arguably the most important and most immediate thing that you need to be aware of when taking your car from Hong Kong into China. In Hong Kong, almost every car drives on the left with the driver sitting in the right-hand side of the vehicle. In China, and indeed many other countries, the driver sits on the left and traffic drives on the right.

This can create some confusion, especially when you get used to driving one way. When you cross the border, of if they decide to follow through on switching the driving direction of the bridge, you need to be aware that:

 

  • Oncoming traffic will be coming from your left - As opposed to oncoming traffic coming from the right in Hong Kong.

  • Turning left means you will need to cross oncoming traffic - as opposed to turning right means you will cross oncoming traffic in Hong Kong.

  • Traffic signs will be on the other side of the road - In Hong Kong, most traffic signs are on the left-hand side of the road. In China, and any other country that drivers on the right, they are on the right-hand side of the road. This might make them harder for drivers with RHD cars to see.

  • Traffic circles goes the opposite direction - Sure, traffic in China can be chaotic and go in pretty much any direction the driver feels like, but generally traffic will flow in a counterclockwise direction.

 

If you are planning to take your RHD car into China, it would be a good idea to take some time to acclimate yourself to driving on the other side of the road before actually doing so in traffic. Beyond that, you should also be aware of the driving rules in the country.

 

Know which lane to drive in

As you likely already know, when driving on multi-lane roads in Hong Kong, slower traffic will be on the left-hand lane (the lan furthest from the center or oncoming traffic). Faster traffic will be in the inner lanes which are closer to oncoming traffic.

The problem here is that when you switch to driving on the other side of the road, the lanes in which you drive are opposite. Slower traffic is on the right with faster traffic being closer to the middle or oncoming traffic.

The concern here is that because you are so used to driving this way, you might automatically drive in the inner lanes. This is dangerous as slower traffic in these lanes increases the chance of an accident.

Therefore, it is important that when you switch to driving on the other side of your car, you try to ensure you are driving in the right-most lane unless you are passing other vehicles.   

 

Watch your vehicle position

Aside from driving in the right lane, it is also a good idea to watch your driving position. Think about it this way: When driving in Hong Kong, drivers will usually line up their side of the car with the edge of the lane, thus ensuring their vehicle is fully in the correct lane.

Only, when you switch to the other side of the road with a RHD car, the driver is now in the opposite position. This could lead to you actually driving with the majority of your car in the other lane. On roads where there is one lane of traffic going in each direction, this would mean you are actually driving with more than half of your car in the oncoming traffic lane.

Needless to say, this is dangerous and can drastically increase your chances of an accident.

 

Watch your turns

You might not think it, but making a turn when driving on the other side of the road is one of the most challenging things to do.

When you go to turn left, you will need to be in the lane closest to the middle of the road, or to oncoming traffic. Unlike in Hong Kong, when you turn left in China you will be doing so across traffic. Meaning, you will be turning into oncoming traffic. In a RHD car, you will need to be careful as you will need to look further to see oncoming traffic.

If you are turning left with two left-hand turn lanes be sure to turn onto the right-hand side of the road but in the same lane you were just in.

As for turning right, you will need to be sure you are in the right-most lane (closest to the curb) and to turn to the lane closest to the curb.

 

Watch for pedestrians

This one can be tricky but generally speaking, pedestrians will come from the other direction in China than in Hong Kong. Being in a right-hand drive car means you will need to pay more attention to the opposite direction for people. That said, people can come from any direction at any time, so be sure to always be on the lookout.   

 

Be careful parking

Generally speaking, people who have driven RHD cars in countries like China have found that parallel parking is actually much easier than in Hong Kong. This is because you can see the curb better from the right side of the vehicle.

Where the problem can happen is when you need to cross traffic lanes to reach a parking spot. Because you will be turning left, you will have a distinct disadvantage when it comes to viewing not only oncoming traffic but traffic coming up behind you as well.

Finally, if you are going to drive your vehicle in China you will need to ensure that your license and insurance are valid there. If you are wondering about whether your current plan will cover you in China, contact us today to learn more.  

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