Here Is The Reason Why Many Countries Drive On The Right Side Of The Road !!

Written By : AIR Staff

Well, we all know this that there are many countries in the world who prefer driving on their right. India is certainly not one of them. About a 35% of the world population drives on the left, and the countries that do are mostly old British colonies.

The other two-thirds of the countries in the world drive on the right including the USA, China, and Russia. Canada used to drive on the left but changed to the right to make border crossings with the USA more manageable. Here are some of the reasons why some countries drive on the right and the other on left.

Now let’s have a look on the world map which depicts the no. of countries following right and left driving rules.

From the above map, we can figure out that around 20-25% of the world population drive on the left and the rest on right.

So the question is, ‘Why do they drive on either left or right’? Here is the reason.

In the past, almost everybody traveled on the left side of the road because that was the most sensible option for feudal, violent societies. Since most people are right-handed, swordsmen preferred to keep to the left in order to have their right arm nearer to an opponent and their scabbard further from him. Moreover, it reduced the chance of the scabbard (worn on the left) hitting other people.

Archaeologists observed deeper grooves on the left lane as the evidence of left side traffic. During the middle ages the roads weren’t always very safe for travelers; meeting people coming the other way on the road was something best done defensively.  Historians then believe the keep-left rule was adopted. Earlier people used to travel on horses, given the fact that around 90% of the riders were right handed, they preferred riding on left so that their right hand is free. Furthermore, a right-handed person finds it easier to mount a horse from the left side of the horse, and it would be very difficult to do otherwise if wearing a sword (which would be worn on the left).

In the late 1700s, however, teamsters in France and the United States began hauling farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had no driver’s seat; instead, the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team. It’s always important to have a straight look on the road. So they decided to make their cart stay on the right while they still whip their horses by their right hand.

Left & Right Side Steering For Cars:

Even in the age of the car, though, it seems to make sense to drive on the left. In most countries, cars are set up to put the driver’s seat in the center of the road, to give them improved visibility: in other words, in left-driving countries, the driver’s seat is on the right.

That puts the right eye, which tends to be stronger, in a better position to see oncoming traffic. It also means that the left hand can change gear, and muck around with the radio and so forth, while the stronger right hand is the one that stays on the wheel. Put this all together, and you end up with at least some evidence that it’s actually safer to drive on the left.

Now whatever the reasons were other than this, keeping to the left was made into a law in England in 1835.  And today most of the countries who prefer driving on the left side are India, South Africa or Australia which were once a part of British Colonies!

Switching the drive from right to left:

Vehicles entering Macau from mainland China use the curly wurly Lótus Bridge to switch from right- to left-hand drive.

Why the rest of the world drive on the right side of the road?

In the early years of English colonization of North America, English driving customs were followed and the colonies drove on the left. It has only been very recently that the world has predominately switched to the “keep-right” rule. After gaining independence from England, however, they were anxious to cast off all remaining links with their British colonial past and gradually changed to right-hand driving.

It’s always important to have a straight look on the road. So they decided to make their cart stay on the right while they still whip their horses by their right hand.

These days, left-hand traffic remains the norm in Britain and many of its former colonies as well as in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and several other nations. Nevertheless, with the rise of the automobile, many countries have switched to the right to fit in with their neighbors.

Well, now that’s the reason why Indians drive on the left side of the road!!

Here are the list of countries which drive on “LEFT”

Drive on the Left in;
  • Australia
  • Caribbean Islands*
  • Channel Islands
  • Cyprus
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Malta
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • UK

Make sure you know before you take to the roads what side of the road to drive on.

An extra piece of information is always helpful. We would like to hear from you. If you know some more interesting possible theories regarding this subject, you can for sure share it with us in the comment section below !