I’ve been driving in the US for a few years now and I’ve been driving for more than 20 years overall.  Most of the similarities and differences between UK and US rules have been reasonably easy to adjust to.

The turn right on stop, which I am still hesitant on doing sometimes, is okay.. I like it and try to avoid pedestrians as much as I can.

Driving on the right is fine too.  I do have an odd thing I do where in my head for instance on a turn left, which is across oncoming traffic and in the UK, a right would be across the oncoming what am doing is swapping left for right as a kind of mental switch.  This catches me out occasionally when getting or receiving directions where I get left and right mixed up – my partner now uses “left left” and right right” to make sure I hear and do the correct turn.

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Stop signs however are a different matter.  I have some sort of mental block on them.  It’s not that I don’t understand them, they operate similar as in the UK though there they are distinctly uncommon (maybe one or two in a large town/small city).  In the UK they are only on one entry to a junction (intersection) with the others being straight through or give way.  The problem is that I just don’t see them, they don’t register in my brain.  My girlfriend (who’s local) doesn’t understand “They are bright red!” she says or “There was a sign back there telling you there was one coming up!” or “It says STOP on the road!”; she blames my age.  I acknowledge this and vow to try harder next time and it is getting better but I still lapse occasionally and have to brake harder than ideal to stop in time.  I don’t know what it is exactly; I think it is the lack of them where I learned to drive.  Here they are everywhere.  In a residential street they are at every junction; i.e. every 100 yards.  And I think drivers here grow up with them, they expect them and mentally they can just see them and react without thinking.  I have to look out for them, see them, then think what the rules are (is it an ‘all way’?) and then react accordingly. It’s just not natural.  I wonder if roundabouts would be the same for an american in the UK; there are a few here but they are uncommon and in the UK they are very prevalent.

I trust that this will all become a thing of the past as I become more and more acclimatised  and that in the meantime I won’t kill anyone who’s on the intersection unaware there is an ignorant Brit coming their way.

 

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