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Left Hand Drive Vs Right Hand Drive Countries


Last year we were looking forward to our trip to Europe, especially Germany. I was telling a former co-worker about how excited my husband was about driving on the Autobahn, Somehow this led us to talking about driving on the left side of the road versus driving on the right side of the road.

Even though German drivers, as well as most of Europe, drive on the right also, it made me stop and think why some countries drive on the left.  It also made me wonder how many countries actually do drive on the left. So I did a little research.

left-hand-drive1This was the first thing I found.  Apparently throughout most of history, driving on the left seems to have been standard. You can see this in the layout of cart tracks on Roman roads and so forth. Since most people are right-handed, by driving on the left it places your stronger hand in the best position to greet those coming the other way. Sadly it also made it more possible to whack them with a sword. Could this have been our first existence of road rage?

left-hand-driveIt also meant that people leading horses could hold the reins in their right hand and walk at the edge of the road. This was advantageous as the road was likely to be a sea of mud. Most people found it easier to mount a horse from its left, too.

Horse1In today’s modern age of cars, 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 adjust the thermostat and change the radio settings. All this happens while the stronger right hand is the one that stays on the wheel. This one makes a lot of sense to me.

Look LeftSo how many countries actually drive on the left versus driving on the right? It is roughly about 75%. The world map below shows which side of the road traffic drives on.   As you can see, most former British colonies, with some exceptions, drive on the left side of the road. Whereas the United States of America, Latin American countries and European countries drive on the right. I found a lot of this information very interesting. Thus I wanted to share what I found for those who have also wondered why other countries drive on the opposite side of the road then in your country.

Left Vs RightWe have driven on the right side of the road on a trip to England once and we were able to adapt. Our biggest issues was the amount of gas that we spent. It can be very expensive in some countries. Read my post 15 Way to Save Gas for some money saving ideas no matter which country you live in or visit. Hope you found this article interesting and informational.


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  • Driving World Map

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When two moving Stagecoaches were facing each other on a narrow track the driver would crack the whip - using his right hand - and cause the Horses to shy to the left and away from the noise it made. So they passed each other without hindrance.

On September 3rd, 1967  Dagen H (or “H-Day”), short for Högertrafikomläggningen (“the right-hand traffic diversion”) millions of Swedes switched from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right.  Looks like fun from a distance.

H Day


George G


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The Swedish experience is fascinating. Here's a link to more details.

What makes it especially fascinating is that Sweden had always had cars with the driver and steering on the left, initially American imports, but had driven on the left. I would have expected a surge in minor accidents at the time of the change, but instead, the article says, the accident rate dropped sharply because drivers were now better placed to deal with oncoming traffic! 

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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