My 1976 Mini van has right hand drive and as I live in Canada that means that it is an unusual site. With a van vision is very limited at the best of times. But the hardest part is making a right turn or merging from the right. Very little can be seen of on coming traffic once you have committed to the turn. The compensating factor of right hand drive is it is a great source of fun encounters.
I get some very strange and often frightened looks from passengers and drivers in other vehicles that pull up on my left side at intersections. Their mouths drop when they see my dog sitting in what they think is the driver’s seat. Likewise they show a lot of concern when they see my wife sitting there reading a newspaper or book. Talk about a cell phone user as a distracted driver!
The van is not very suited to the popular fast food drive-thru windows. First, unless I want to back through the lane, I am on the wrong side for the window. If I am lucky enough to have a passenger, the drive-thru and the Mini windows are never at the same level. If the server and the passenger have long enough arms to co-ordinate the passing of food, they encounter the problem of the sliding window on the van. This basically limits items to a coffee or soft drink. Drive-thru ATM’s are just down right impossible.
It can be a real reach when I pull into a parking lot and some attendant bends down at the left hand side to collect the fee. But it is even worse when I have to get a ticket from one of those darn machines at the entrance. Get out of the van, walk around, collect the ticket and then endure the glares from all the motorists lined up behind the van. One advantage to this dilemma is that whenever I attend a fair, antique show, car show, etc., my passenger usually has to pay the entrance or parking fee.
Almost every person that goes for a ride in my van approaches the driver’s door first. Even in my old age I have the same problem. After driving my regular car for a few weeks, I find myself going out to the Mini and approaching the wrong side. I have done it enough that I can now cover-up my mistake by casually walking around the van, as if checking the tires.
The one fear that I have not encountered yet is to be stopped by the police. I can imagine how upset the officer is going to be when he/she approaches the wrong side of the van, has to bend way down to look in the window, and discovers me sitting on the other side. And how thrilled will the officer be when he/she walks around to my side and I open the sliding window to discuss the stop.
Perhaps I should put those decals that the post office uses, Caution Right Hand Drive, on the van. But where would the fun be in that?