Which Countries Drive on the Left or Right?
The most crucial traffic law is to which side of the road to travel on. This is the main cause of accidents worldwide, as more and more travelers opt for auto rentals when navigating a strange land.
Because he overlooked the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road in Ireland, well-known actor Matthew Broderick was hurt badly in a crash.
Driving is still done on the left side of the road in most former British colonies, including Australia, the Caribbean, India, and South Africa. Drive on the left in Japan as well.
For a complete list of nations that drive on the left, see the table and graphic below, or visit our full-size map here.
All of Europe except for Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, and the United Kingdom drives on the right side of the road. The only left-hand driving nations in South America are Guyana and Suriname.
If you typically drive on the right and intend to rent a car in the UK or another nation where driving is done on the left, you should use extreme caution for the first few miles until you get used to driving on the opposite side of the road.
The USA, China, and Russia are three of the two-thirds of the world's nations that drive on the right. To make border crossings with the United States of America more manageable, Canada switched from driving on the left to the right.
There are historical justifications for using different lanes of transportation. To keep their right arm free to wave to onlookers or draw their swords, British horse riders used to ride on the left-hand side of the road.
However, Teamsters (animal drivers) in the USA used to sit on the left-hand horse when pulling a wagon so that they could use their right hand to lash the other horses. They made the decision to start driving on the right so they could see the passing wheels of other wagons in order to prevent mishaps.
The Bahamas, Bangladesh, the Cook Islands, the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Zimbabwe are a few of the other significant nations that drive on the left but weren't previously mentioned.
The Full History
The ancient Romans may have driven their chariots and carts on the left, according to archeological evidence, and the custom appears to have survived until some areas of medieval Europe. Although the reasons for this are unclear, some people think that safety concerns are to blame.
According to one explanation, most people are right-handed, therefore choosing to drive or ride on the left would have allowed them to defend themselves against enemies by using their dominant hand.
Horse and wagon traffic was so infrequent until the early 1700s that whether to travel on the left or the right frequently depended on regional custom. After government regulations were passed in 1773 and 1835, left-hand traffic ultimately became the norm in Britain, while France had a different history that had preferred the right since the 18th century.
Many former British colonies, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India, still drive on the left since these two nations later transmitted their driving habits to their respective colonies.
In contrast, many academics in the United States attribute the emergence of freight wagons drawn by big teams of horses in the 18th century as the commencement of right-hand traffic. In order to more readily direct their animal team with their right hand, drivers frequently rode on the left rear horse of these vehicles since they frequently lacked a driver's seat.
Traffic naturally shifted to the right as the popularity of the wagons increased so that drivers could sit closer to the middle of the road and prevent crashes. Henry Ford, the creator of the Model T, was still another significant influence because he mass-produced it with a left-facing steering wheel that required right-handed driving.
Nowadays, left-hand traffic is still the rule in countries like Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and many of Britain's former colonies. However, several nations have changed to the right in order to blend in with their neighbors as the use of automobiles has increased.
In order to facilitate travel to and from the United States, Canada gave up driving on the left side of the road in the 1920s. Meanwhile, Sweden's government spent over $120 million getting its residents ready to start driving on the right in 1967.
Source: RhinoCarHire.com, History.com
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