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Dogs do not stick their heads out of car windows in Scotland, of that I'm sure.

Narrow roads, close hedgerows which turn into stone walls without notice--all of these things make driving around in the countryside a bit of a challenge for those of us used to four-lane freeways and well-signposted city streets.

A lot of people balk at driving in the UK, if only because they drive on the opposite side of the road than they are used to. It takes a bit of getting used to, I'll admit (I spend the first day repeating "on the left! the left!" every time we pass another car or come to a roundabout. But it takes only a few hours for Mark to start driving like a native.

I think it's worse for the passenger, to be honest. I was on the correct side of the car ot be driving, but had no controls. It took me a bit longer to get used to it.

The OTHER side!

There are just a couple of basic guidelines -- as noted, drive on the left, enter roudabouts to the left. You can read the rules of the road here.

On the narrow roads that abound outside the cities, things get a bit more hairy. In many cases the roads are barely wider than the car. There are passing places -- wide spots in the road -- every half mile or so. The trick is to approach them so you meet at the wide spot. Go LEFT! Your brain will want to go to the right (we're trained to veer right when an oncoming car approaches), but you need to remember to GO LEFT. Undiscovered Scotland has a lovely page on single-track roads and how to manage them.

One Simple Rule

Mark has distilled the driving-on-the-left thing to one simple rule: "Keep the other cars on the driver's side of the car". When you approach another car, make sure that you let them go by on the driver's side. It's the same as at home, when you tihink about it, just reversed, but if you always remember that you and the other driver should pass eye-to-eye, you'll almost instinctively veer left when you need to.

And they let us drive here?

I am firmly convinced that anyone used to driving on the right, who rents a car in the UK, should be given a bright orange vehicle with giant blinky lights on it, and possibly a sign on it that warns the other drivers that we are non-natives, and might perform unexpected driving maneuvers. Or at the very least, that we may be a bit erratic.

But even if you do manage to cut a corner too close, or even drive the wrong way, chances are you'll be met with a warning honk and a rather bemused smile. People don't seem to get very angry here, while driving (which I can't understand, the congestion in the cities and the narrow, windy, hilly streets in towns lead to some pretty amazing traffic jams). Everyone pays attention, and if you mess up, do the universal "Sorry!" shrug and move out smartly.

If you should have an accident, do whatever your rental car requires (they will have instructions in your rental packet, I assure you). We've been very lucky and other than scraping up a few wheel wells on stone walls and whacking the edges of the mirrors in the ever-present shrubbery, we have never evven come close to a fender-bender. There is little traffic outside of the major towns, which is probably why.

Drunk Driving

Don't. They are VERY serious about this in Scotland. Drink responsibily, please.