In this region of Europe and other nations worldwide, we frequently state that, in contrast to the English, we drive on the right side of the road.
The fact is that 55 countries use the same custom. Therefore, they are not the only ones.
Because we drive on the right side of the road in Spain, the passenger compartment of the cars we use has the steering wheel on the left.
In contrast, driving in the UK is done in the other direction, with the driver traveling in the right-hand lane and the car in the left.
While driving on the left, like the English, is common throughout much of the world, it may look weird to us. This is because 75 territories, or 55 countries, are recognized by the UN that follows this technique.
But where did this tradition originate from, and why? Let’s examine a past that many claims date back to the era of the Roman roads.
The right hand was employed to hold the weapon. Hence historians claim that Roman soldiers marched on the left side of streets and highways. As a result, whenever two people crossed paths, the gun was always on the side where a potential foe was moving in.
The British government explored catching up to the vast majority of European nations in this regard in 1967.
This practice was similarly advantageous for horseback riders since the right arm was used to hold the lance or sword while the other hand handled the reins, the side from which the opponent was attacked.
It was advisable to ride on the left to prevent hurting people walking along the side of the road because once the carriages arrived, the “drivers” had to use their left hand to handle the reins and their right hand to control the whip.
Because of this, everyone around the globe rode on the left until France changed it. Some claim that Napoleon Bonaparte, who was left-handed and sought to modify traffic flow in his country and the other captured countries, as a result, was the architect.
The driver, Freepik, occupies the left seat in the carriages and controls the riding crop with his right hand.
Others claimed that nobility typically drove on the left and everyone else on the right. It served as a sort of fast lane for the wealthiest people.
After the French Revolution, many started driving on the right to avoid being recognized. In Paris, it has always been required by law to go on the right, dating back to 1794.
In any case, the majority of the British colonies and many other nations that are geographically adjacent to them still adhere to the tradition of driving on the left.
Today, numerous American territories, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua & Barbuda, have left-hand traffic. Guyana and Suriname, however, continue to practice this custom in South America.
The steering wheel is on the right side of automobiles in nations with left-handed traffic.
The same occurs on other continents, including Asia’s India, Japan, Thailand, or Hong Kong; Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand; Africa’s Kenya, South Africa, or Mozambique; and Europe’s Ireland, Cyprus, or Malta.
Has the UK considered picking a different side?
It has, indeed. Sweden changed its norms in 1967, and everyone began to drive on the right side of the road.
The British government thought about doing the same two years later to catch up to most European nations, but the operation’s huge cost forced it to be abandoned.
The British Isles’ deeply ingrained national traditions and values likely had a significant role. Still, there’s no denying that the anticipated spending of £264 million at the time (about 4.7$ billion now) also played a significant role.
Have you ever tried driving left-handed? Did you think it was too difficult to do so?