06 October 2020

Why Do We Drive On the Right Or On the Left?

Have you always wondered why we drive on the right, when in other countries they drive on the left?

When we  search our History, from the days of the Knights until the end of the 18th century, the world traveled on the left lane.

Indeed, since the knights were mainly right-handed, and had to be able to quickly defend themselves with their sword held on the right, it was easier for them to walk on the left side of the road. This practice was widespread in Greece and Egypt, as well as in the Roman Empire.

It was with the arrival of a special horse-drawn carriage, a covered carriage drawn by several horses invented in the United States, that the direction of traffic began to change, as the driver had to sit on the left rear horse of the cart and hold the whip with his right hand. It was therefore difficult to judge distances properly when driving on the left, and it could be dangerous to accidentally whip other road users.

Source: Conestoga Wagons

This carriage was all the rage in North America, and was subsequently equally popular throughout Europe, except for England, slowly transforming the side of the road people would drive on.

It was ultimately Napoleon Bonaparte who imposed right-hand traffic for most European countries during his conquests.

As for the UK, they’ve kept left-hand driving and implemented it in their colonies, which is why they also drive on the left in countries like Australia and India.

Keep Left! Tips for driving on the other side - The Untours BlogSource: Untours

As for Japan, since England helped build its first railway in 1872, left-hand traffic had been established for trains. It was in 1924 that it became mandatory across the country.

At a certain time, the Maritime provinces had adopted left-hand drive as well, namely Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. It was after pressures saying that left-hand driving was bad for tourism that these provinces rallied to the rest of Canada.