RightHandDrive.ca/blog Canadian Right Hand Drive News and Thoughts


Right hand drive ban in Nigeria

Lagos, a state in Nigeria, has banned right hand drive vehicles outright (source).  Seeing as there are countries that are RHD countries I find that interesting.

The thing that really caught my attention was a quote from the news story I found.

"Lagos state government said it will enforce the ban of unworthy vehicles on its roads as it announced its intention to impound right-hand drive cars." http://allafrica.com/stories/201002160680.html

Those are hurt words.  Ouch.  I'm sure some of the RHD cars are run down, but that could be any car.  I'm not sure if this is an exact quote, or a paraphrasing... but either way... ouch...




What are the controls like in a Right Hand Drive car?

This question isn't as simple as it might seem. I'll tell you what I know, and then I'll tell you what the internet knows.

To get it out of the way I'll tell you straight off that the pedals are in the same order as LHD cars. Accelerator on the far right, then the brake to the left of that and then to the left of that, the clutch... if you have one. So, this carries over no problem.

The shifter is still in the middle of the car. No shocker there.  For cars with manual transmissions you'll find that they have the same shift pattern as LHD cars. It's actually quite natural to shift with the left hand.  My opinion is that 75%+ of the world is right handed.  So, why would we make the majority of the population shift (the easy job) with their dominant hand and drive with the less useful hand?

My radio, though I don't know about others, is backwards. The volume knob is on the far right and the tuner is on the far left.... confuses the heck out of everyone. But that might be a one-off.

Ok, now for the messy part. The signal lights and wiper controls. These are opposite on right hand drive cars. So, you'll probably turn on the wipers when trying to signal a few times in the first week.


That's only in Japanese vehicles. Or, I should say, the common layout for controls in Japanese vehicles.

I've been told that right hand drives in the UK have the signal controls on the left, much like North American LHDs. The learning curve might be a little simpler for North Americans in this instance. But, after talking to a few Brits before this post it sounds like it's more of a mixed bag of signal light control locations.

If you're considering a right hand drive and are worried about the controls, don't be. I switch between right and left hand cars on a regular basis and it's never an issue.  I'd say I choose the wrong control and turn on the windshield wipers about once a month because I switch back and forth... but most people wouldn't even notice that something went wrong as long as you don't panic.



Is it worth the trouble driving a right hand drive car?

Clearly I am a little biased when asked this question, but I think this question can be answered objectively. The answer lies somewhere in the 'kind of' area.  I'll try to break it down into a few areas you should consider before you purchase a right hand drive car.


This is a major concern for some people, and it should be a consideration when buying a right hand drive vehicle.  I, for one, sourced parts while looking for my truck. I was lucky that the guy who imported my truck owns a parts store and said he would stock parts for it.  Will he in the long run? Who knows.

Some cars have lots of parts in common with their North American equivalents.  I believe the Toyota Hilux is one of these vehicles.  Clearly not all parts will be interchangeable, but it very well could save you having to ship a part from a different province, country or continent. Do your research, don't leave it to chance. That cheap Skyline might be appealing, but who knows how much it's going to cost you to maintain it.


This one, in general, is quite easier.  Be prepared for funny looks.  When I'm at Canadian Tire trying to get simple things, like a new battery, they ask me for a make and model.  Every time I say "It's not in your system". They generally say, "Try me". Great.  Ok.  Daihatsu Hijet. They don't even know how to spell it.  Sigh.  I tried to save them the embarrassment.

What you should do is, again, your research.  Find the bolt pattern, battery size or whatever online before you just stumble into a parts store and get blank looks from the clerk.  The internet is your friend here. The information can be dicey at times, but it's a huge resource. Once you find what you need, a strategy to handle useless clerks is to find a car/truck/boat (yes... boat. It's worked for me in the past) that has similar parts and just say you have that.  Work the system.


I'm lucky I live in Manitoba.  We have 'Public Insurance". At first I was worried my truck wouldn't be in the system and that it would be a big hassle. Turns out it was in their system and it was simple to insure. I know that Quebec currently has a hold on all right hand drive vehicles, but I believe they are legal to drive in all other provinces. In general the insurance is comparable to other cars in its class.  Shop around.

Driving one

Is it more dangerous to drive a right hand drive? No.

But the stats say that you're 40% more likely to have an accident! Yeah, but I'll bet those are all 16-30 year old dudes that would have done the same in a tuned left hand drive.

It's different, and occasionally awkward. Once you're used to driving one you adjust to avoid putting yourself in these awkward places. Just like driving a left hand drive, there are positions you avoid. You could say this about any car.  They all have blind spots and you work around them. Every car is different, but I know that I don't turn into a right hand turn before I can go because my passenger becomes a blind spot. So, I just don't do that.... shocking!  Be smart. Drive safe. In the end it's just a car and has all the same odd things.

What about the McD's Drive Through!

Yeah.. about that. This is part of the adjusting.  Consider avoiding the McD's drive through a health measure.

Other things you'll have to avoid/think through/have a passenger for:

  • Parkades. This one sucks.  Running around the car to get the ticket to enter - running back to get in the car soon enough so the arm doesn't drop.  Not classy.
  • Drive through ATMs.

What about the Police?

There are horror stories about right hand drivers getting pulled over weekly. I, personally, haven't been pulled over yet.  I've gotten some confused looks from the police, but nothing too serious. But, my Kei truck isn't.... fast... at all.

If you are considering buying a twin turbo Fairlady Z, Skyline or other Japanese uber-sports car and put racing stickers on it.... chances are you're going to get pulled over.  If you're driving one of these cars like a moron... you're GOING to get pulled over.

Right hand drive cars are more noticeable... by jealous onlookers and the cops. If you don't want to be noticed, then buy yourself a Ford Taurus. Buying a flashy car has some strings attached.

So, is it worth it?


It's not all glamour and awesomeness.  There are special issues that come with the turf.  You'll look like an idiot when you go to a parkade. You'll never go through a drive through alone again. But, they're fun. They're low mileage. They're different.

I, for one, love my truck.  And, in the end if I ever want to go through a drive through again I could buy a cheap beater LHD or (god forbid) sell my truck one day.  But for now, I think it's the greatest thing ever.


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