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Left Hand Drive: CAUTION!

As driving is on the left side of the road in Ireland, motorists without experience in left-drive countries should be particularly cautious. Tourists driving on the wrong side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year. Road conditions are generally very good, but once off main highways, country roads quickly become narrow and uneven. Roads are more dangerous during the summer and on holiday weekends due to an increase in traffic.

Before you even hit the road, try to get a feeling for the mirror-image layout. Your left hand will operate the gearstick, your right hand open the door. Remember that the more important wing mirror is on your right, the central rear view mirror on your left. If at all possible drive a few minutes in the rental company's yard.

This may be obvious when everybody else does, but tends to be forgotten especially after breaks, on lonely roads and in the morning. Pass traffic islands to the left. Only use a roundabout clockwise. Take a left turn when accessing a motorway and remember to join traffic on your right side. It actually helps to have a small post-it note saying 'stay left' on the dashboard.

Seat Belts

Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and rear seats. Children under 12 years old should be seated in the rear. Young children should be properly placed in child seats.

Cell Phones

It is illegal to hold a mobile phone while driving.


Not to be used between 11:30pm and 7:00am.


Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.

Drinking and Driving

'Drink' driving (driving under the influence) is a very serious offence in Ireland. Over 0.08 per cent and you could face anything up to imprisonment. Local police (An Garda Siochána) have powers to set up random breath-test checkpoints (and they do often!). If caught driving under the influence you will receive a very hefty fine and possible imprisonment. You should make sure that you have appropriate identification and vehicle documents with you. Taxis are available in nearly all towns and villages and the fare is quite inexpensive.


In the case of an accident you will need to call the police (in Ireland they are called Garda) and if anyone is injured an Ambulance, telephone number is 999 for both. If there is any damage to the car or injury to a passenger then calling the police is essential. You will need to take contact details of all witnesses to the accident. If you have a camera make sure you take photographs from all angles before any vehicle is moved. Always take the name and address or telephone number of any potential witnesses to the accident in case of disputes arising later. Never engage in an argument about the cause of an accident. If you have hired a car you must contact your rental company immediately.


Car insurance is compulsory in Ireland. Ireland competes with Portugal for the most traffic accidents in Western Europe.

A note on CDW insurance: One of the additional optional insurances you can pick up is called the SDW, Super CDW or Master Cover. This is insurance on your Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) excess/deductible. All vehicles have an excess starting at 800 euro. If you are in an accident you pay the first 800 and the CDW insurance covers the balance. The SDW will pay that excess charge for you. Each company has a different fee for this depending on which insurance company they're using but you can expect to pay about 12-15 per day on top of your rental costs.