Even though some countries drive on the left side of the road, right-hand drive (RHD) cars are not the norm on many US roads.
Even though most Americans and Europeans find driving in places like the UK strange, RHD vehicles are common in these countries.
But what do the laws at the state and federal level say about RHD? Can a RHD be driven in the US?
Right-hand drive cars can be driven in the US. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) don’t say anything about how a driver should sit. But it can be hard to drive a RHD on US roads. Before you buy one, you should know what it’s like to drive one.
Today’s article talks about right-hand drive cars, the challenges you might face while driving them, and how you can get one for yourself. Let’s get going.
What’s a Right-Hand Drive?
The only difference between the right-hand drive and the left-hand drive is that the steering wheel is on the right side of the car.
All of the controls are the same, but the gear shift stick is in the middle and to the left of the driver.
So, drivers in countries where right-hand drive is the norm drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right.
Can You Operate a Right-Hand Drive (RHD) in the United States?
Yes. A RHD car can be driven legally in the USA. The cars used by the US Postal Service drive on the right side.
If a USPS worker drives a car that goes on the left side of the road, it can be hard for them to get their mail.
So, it’s easy for mail carriers to get to mailboxes by the road, while carriers in the city can get their jobs done without getting in the way of traffic.
But USPS drivers get special training in RHD in order to get a certification to drive on the right side of the road.
Challenges of Right-hand Drive in the US
If you like cars with right-hand drive, you might think about buying one and driving it on American roads. Well, we’ve seen that’s legal, so you can drive your RHD car without fear or intimidation.
But driving a RHD on the right side of the road is very hard because you are always on the side of the lane that you can’t see.
Here is a list of things that will go wrong:
1. Limited Visibility
On rural roads, it will be hard to see oncoming cars or cars ahead of you in your lane, so you will need to be very careful when passing.
When driving on a two-lane highway, it’s common to pull into the other lane to see if it’s clear.
But a RHD driver sits on the side of the car that is farthest from the curb, which is much closer to the curb than the middle of the lane.
To pass a bigger car, like a truck, the driver needs to move toward the edge of the road so he can see what’s coming.
In the same way, when changing lanes on freeways, the driver must use the rearview mirror on the passenger side before passing.
You can pass other cars, but it’s hard and it might take you a while to get used to it.
2. Grabbing a Ticket Can Be Challenging
Most automated parking garages make it hard to get a parking ticket because they are set up for cars that drive on the left.
In the same way, if you want to order food at a fast food drive-through, you’ll have to move to the passenger seat.
3. You’ll Be Shifting Gears With Your Left Hand
Some controls on right-hand drive cars are “inverted,” which means you’ll have to train yourself and go against your muscle memory to use them. For instance, in a right-hand-drive (RHD) car, the gear shifter is on the left and the steering wheel is on the right.
You’ll have to teach yourself to use your left hand to change gears. The good thing is that the way you shift and how the pedals are set up don’t change.
Is It Legal to Import a Right-Hand Drive Car?
Right-hand drive cars aren’t made for the US market, so they might not meet safety and pollution standards set by the US DOT and EPA.
And because standards vary around the world, US law says that no one can bring cars less than 25 years old into the country.
And if your right-hand-drive car is less than 25 years old, you’ll have to show that it meets US standards.
No rule applies to all RHD imports into the US, so you need to be very careful and follow the rules before you bring your car in.
How Do I Get a Right-Hand Drive Car in the US?
It’s not easy to bring a car that drives on the right side of the road into the US. You’ll have to find your car, find an exporter, pay your shipping costs, and fill out a lot of paperwork.
It will also cost you a lot of money, and you should only buy it if you can’t drive a car with the steering wheel on the left.
One other choice is to buy one at an auction. It might be easier for you because you’ll be able to try out the car before you buy it. But you’ll be putting yourself through a lot of trouble.
Some cars at auctions are overpriced, don’t come with warranties, or have bigger problems that may cost you even more to fix.
3. Converting Your Left-Hand Drive Car to Right-Hand Drive
You could also change your car from left-hand drive to right-hand drive. It’s a long and difficult process that could make your warranty or insurance coverage void.
Also, it’s expensive because you have to buy conversion kits for the right-hand drive system, pedals, and dashboard.
Also, the conversion kits might not be to your liking, which would mean you’d have to spend more money to make the car fit your tastes.
And since the process might require taking your car apart, it should be done by experts. If you don’t have the right skills, doing it yourself could put the lives of other drivers in danger.
Getting a pro to do it saves you time, but you may have to pay close to $30,000 or even $40,000.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can You Drive a Right-Hand Drive Car in California?
Right-hand drive cars are legal to drive in California as long as they have turn signals and a rearview mirror on the left side.
Can You Drive a Right-Hand Drive Car in New York?
Yes. It is allowed. The car must meet safety and pollution standards set by the US Customs Service, the DOT, the EPA, and New York State.
Can You Drive a Right-Hand Drive Car in Massachusetts?
Yes. It is allowed. The car must meet safety and pollution standards set by the US Customs Service, the DOT, the EPA, and the state of Massachusetts.