So I’m on travel this week getting a peek at some of Meritor’s brake manufacturing and testing facilities in the United Kingdom (more commonly known by its two-letter acronym the ‘U.K.’) and Germany.
The visit started in South Wales at Meritor’s brake manufacturing plant in Cwmbran [pronounced ‘Koom-brahn’] located just south of Cardiff – and the relatively short drive from Cardiff International Airport to Cwmbran reminded me again about how vehicle operation in the U.K is the complete reverse of how we do things in the U.S.
[To see more photos, please click here.]
For starters, of course, the driver sits on the right side of the vehicle, which makes ‘riding shotgun’ up front in the left side passenger seat a little disorienting because that’s where one normal sits to operate a vehicle in the U.S.
Then you start flying down the roadways – often much narrower than what we’re used to stateside – on the left hand side of the asphalt; usually encouraging my subconscious to start screaming ‘We’re on the wrong side of the road!’ Thus probably a good thing I am NOT driving this go around!
Ah but then there’s the unique history intertwined with the road network here in South Wales, as many Roman-era walls and bridge fixtures still remain in active use here and there, adjoining the many towns and villages strung out across 22 valleys.
It’s also helpful to remember that the Welsh are a people with ancient roots – indeed, the Welsh language itself is some 4,000 years old and is being actively revitalized today, meaning all the roadway signs now feature both English and Welsh nomenclature. ['Cwmbran' by the way means 'Crow Valley' as this particular of South Wales apparently served as home to thousands of those birds.]
That just adds yet another layer to the roadway differences between here and the U.S.!