Monday, January 2, 2012

Driving in Malta

Part of our Malta adventure has been just touring around in our Daihatsu Sirion rental car. At times, it has bit a bit stressful. The roads aren’t exactly the best. And Maltese drivers have, shall we say, have their own style of driving. Turn signals aren’t used, speed limits seem to be optional and stop signs appear to only be a suggestion. All of this I can handle. But what really has done me in is that in Malta, like in the UK, Ireland and Cyprus, everyone drives on the left-hand side of the road.
I’ve been driving on the right-hand side of the road for around 25 years. So to me this seems “normal”. I have driven in Aruba and Japan before, where everyone drives on the left-hand side, but I was still in left-handed vehicles. So it wasn’t really that different. In Malta, I am forced to drive a right-handed vehicle on the left-hand side of the road. Yikes!
You really have to remember that the nearest edge of the road has to be on the left. It sounds simple enough. Mentally, I keep thinking, drive on the left…drive on the left…drive on the left. It freaks me out though when you drive down all of the one-way streets because Maltese drivers park their cars facing both directions so as you go down a street you approach cars on both sides. Wicked confusing at first.
At first it was odd to shift with my left hand. The gearbox is laid out in the same pattern but downshifting is just counter-intuitive. It takes a few hours before you get used to making big right hand turns and taking tight left hand turns. Eventually you figure out just how close you are to the curb.
The most difficult part has been the left-handed roundabouts. And Malta seems to have way more roundabouts than the Czech Republic. It is just very, very odd driving the “wrong way” around them.
Miran has done a bit of the driving but it’s mainly been me behind the wheel. Go figure that the first time I drive a car in Europe, after getting my Czech license, is in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road. Probably not the best idea ever but it really has been worth it. We’ve really been able to get out and explore Malta and Gozo. We can go where we wanted, when we want and stay for as long as we want.
Who knows? Maybe after this I'll be ready to tackle driving in Ireland.

1 comment:

  1. Lol as they say! Driving a RHD car on the left-hand side of the road is far from being difficult. Yes - if your not used to it, go carefully at first, but then that applies more generally when you first try to drive any car you're not familiar with.

    Roundabouts are originally a British idea which is why they are more common in countries such as Malta, where there has been a long period of British influence. But they have spread elsewhere - for example they've become quite common in France. And I like the use of British English - I thought Americans called them Traffic Circles :-)