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Left or right, why is our drive not universal? - Answers

Questions answered : 664||Last updated on : June 6th, 2018 At 07:30:55pm (PDT)

Left or right, why is our drive not universal?

World map indicating countries with right and left-hand drive

Most of the countries of the world drive on the right-hand side of the road. According to estimates, currently 163 nations and territories are driving on the right-hand side, while 76 countries and territories are using left hand traffic. In fact, only nations which were once under the British rule drive on the left side.

There are no concrete reasons as to why there is a difference in the driving patterns across the countries. It began during the days of the Roman Empire when the soldiers rode on the left side.  They kept their swords on the left side and drew it out from the right hand, conveniently attacking the enemy coming from the opposite direction. The trend prevailed during the late 17th century when huge horse wagons dominated the roads of US. It helped drivers to lash the horses with the right hand while they balanced other things with the left hand.

However, the trend to follow right-hand drive was followed by the French people, primarily because of their opposition to the British. They did not want to do anything like the British. With the coming of Napoleon to power, who was left-handed, the same system continued in all the territories he conquered. This was not the case with England as it was never conquered by Napoleon and thus they continued following the classic left-hand driving.

With the expansion of the British Empire, all the countries colonized or ruled by the Brits conformed to the left-hand driving rule of the British. The nations of the Indian sub-continent, which include; India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Maldives drive on the left-hand side. Meanwhile, there are just four nations in Europe that drive on the left-hand side, these are; Malta, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Cyprus. Other nations that drive on the left side are; Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Grenada, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and some others.

Europe primarily drives on the right hand. Some prominent European countries using RHT are; Austria, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and many other nations. The North American nations of Canada, the United States, and Mexico drive on the right-hand side.

Many Asian countries also drive on the right such as China, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Mongolia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and others. African countries that fall in this category are Tunisia, Togo, Sudan, Senegal, Niger, Mali, and Madagascar, to name a few.

A tabular form to depict the countries that drive on the left or right side would simplify it.

Country Road traffic
 Barbados LHT
 East Timor LHT
 Fiji LHT
 Namibia LHT
 Saint Kitts and Nevis LHT
 Saint Lucia LHT
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines LHT
 Samoa LHT
 United Kingdom LHT
 Zimbabwe LHT
 Antigua and Barbuda LHT
 Bahamas LHT
 Bangladesh LHT
 Bhutan LHT
 Botswana LHT
 Brunei LHT
 Cyprus LHT
 Dominica LHT
 Grenada LHT
 Guyana LHT
 India LHT
 Ireland LHT
 Jamaica LHT
 Kiribati LHT
 Lesotho LHT
 Malawi LHT
 Malaysia LHT
 Maldives LHT
 Malta LHT
 Mauritius LHT
 Nauru LHT
 Pakistan LHT
 Papua New Guinea LHT
 Seychelles LHT
 Singapore LHT
 Solomon Islands LHT
 Sri Lanka LHT
 Suriname LHT
 Swaziland LHT
 Tanzania LHT
 Tonga LHT
 Tuvalu LHT
 Uganda LHT
 Zambia LHT
 Australia LHT
 Indonesia LHT
 New Zealand LHT
 Thailand LHT
 Japan LHT
 Kenya LHT
 Mozambique LHT
 Nepal LHT
 South Africa LHT
 Trinidad and Tobago LHT
 Afghanistan RHT
 Argentina RHT
 Austria RHT
 Bahrain RHT
 Belize RHT
 Brazil RHT
 Burundi RHT
 Cambodia RHT
 Canada RHT
 Denmark RHT
 Finland RHT
 France RHT
 Ghana RHT
 Iceland RHT
 Italy RHT
 North Korea and  South Korea RHT
 Kyrgyzstan RHT
 Mauritania RHT
 Myanmar RHT
 Netherlands RHT
 Nigeria RHT
 Oman RHT
 Panama RHT
 Paraguay RHT
 Philippines RHT
 Poland RHT
 Sierra Leone RHT
 Somalia RHT
 South Sudan RHT
 Spain RHT
 Taiwan RHT
 Ukraine RHT
 United States RHT
 Yemen RHT
 Gambia RHT
 Micronesia RHT
 China RHT
 Vanuatu RHT
 Albania RHT
 Algeria RHT
 Andorra RHT
 Angola RHT
 Armenia RHT
 Azerbaijan RHT
 Belgium RHT
 Belarus RHT
 Benin RHT
 Bolivia RHT
 Bosnia and Herzegovina RHT
 Bulgaria RHT
 Burkina Faso RHT
 Cameroon RHT
 Cape Verde RHT
 Central African Republic RHT
 Chad RHT
 Chile RHT
 Colombia RHT
 Comoros RHT
 Congo RHT
 Democratic Republic of Congo RHT
 Costa Rica RHT
 Côte d’Ivoire RHT
 Croatia RHT
 Cuba RHT
 Czech Republic RHT
 Djibouti RHT
 Dominican Republic RHT
 Ecuador RHT
 Egypt RHT
 El Salvador RHT
 Equatorial Guinea RHT
 Eritrea RHT
 Estonia RHT
 Ethiopia RHT
 Gabon RHT
 Georgia RHT
 Greece RHT
 Guatemala RHT
 Guinea RHT
 Guinea-Bissau RHT
 Haiti RHT
 Honduras RHT
 Hungary RHT
 Iran RHT
 Iraq RHT
 Israel RHT
 Jordan RHT
 Kazakhstan RHT
 Kuwait RHT
 Laos RHT
 Latvia RHT
 Lebanon RHT
 Liberia RHT
 Libya RHT
 Liechtenstein RHT
 Lithuania RHT
 Luxembourg RHT
 Macedonia RHT
 Madagascar RHT
 Mali RHT
 Marshall Islands RHT
 Mexico RHT
 Moldova RHT
 Monaco RHT
 Mongolia RHT
 Montenegro RHT
 Morocco RHT
 Nicaragua RHT
 Niger RHT
 Norway RHT
 Palau RHT
 Palestine RHT
 Peru RHT
 Qatar RHT
 Romania RHT
 Russia RHT
 San Marino RHT
 São Tomé and Príncipe RHT
 Saudi Arabia RHT
 Senegal RHT
 Serbia RHT
 Slovakia RHT
 Slovenia RHT
 Sudan RHT
 Sweden RHT
  Switzerland RHT
 Syria RHT
 Tajikistan RHT
 Togo RHT
 Tunisia RHT
 Turkey RHT
 Turkmenistan RHT
 United Arab Emirates RHT
 Uzbekistan RHT
 Venezuela RHT
 Vietnam RHT
 Portugal RHT
 Rwanda RHT
 Germany RHT
 Uruguay RHT

 

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