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Why some countries drive on the right—and others on the left

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Ever wonder why some countries drive on the right and others on the left? This seemingly simple question has deep historical roots and is tied to cultural customs and practical considerations, but here’s the long story short.


In the early days, almost everyone traveled on the left side of the road. This was particularly convenient for medieval swordsmen on horseback, as it allowed their right arms to be closer to their opponents. However, things changed in the late 1700s with the advent of large wagons pulled by several pairs of horses in France and the United States. The driver, sitting on the rear left horse, preferred other wagons to pass on his left, leading to a shift towards right-side driving.


Meanwhile, the British Government, refusing to abandon their left-hand driving ways, introduced the General Highways Act in 1773, encouraging driving on the left. This was later made law with The Highway Act of 1835. As these nations expanded their influence globally, they insisted that their colonies adopt the same driving conventions. This explains why former British colonies like Australia, New Zealand, and India drive on the left, while former French colonies drive on the right.


The introduction of the Model T by Henry Ford in 1908, with its left-side driver’s seat, further solidified right-side driving in many countries. This allowed passengers to exit the car onto the curb, influencing a shift to right-side driving in countries like Canada, Italy, and Spain in the 1920s.


This intriguing divergence in driving customs continues to be a topic of fascination, prompting discussions about cultural differences and historical influences. But here’s a question to ponder: If given the chance, would you prefer to drive on the left or the right side of the road, and why? Share your thoughts below!



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