What do Britain, Bangladesh, Japan and India have in common? They aren’t the only countries in the world that do it, but they drive on the left. I’m British and I think it’s a good idea. Before I came to Poland I was told that you drive on the right. As a result, I decided to practise it myself so I would get some experience. It’s very dangerous!
So why do about fifty countries keep left on the roads? Well, you could ask why so many countries drive on the right. It depends how you dress and what you are doing on the roads in the first place.
Most people are right-handed. In the days when people carried swords with them for safety, passing on the left was the best method. Your sword sheaths wouldn’t knock against each other, and if the other person attacked you, you could fight back with your sword arm. Obviously it isn’t such a good system if you are left-handed, but the majority usually make the customs.
This is also safer if you are riding a horse. You can see what another person has in their right hand. If you were on the right, the horse’s body would block your view. So there are fewer surprise sword attacks as you travel. Horses also influenced the decision to ride on the left because this is the side that most people choose to mount and dismount on (that is, get on and get off). It’s safer not to do this on the side with the traffic.
Then along came Napoleon, who was left handed. Then the American car industries started mass production with all cars fitted with their steering wheels on the left (for driving on the right). Then Adolf Hitler did the rest of Europe, with a few exceptions.
As you can imagine, it would be too expensive for Britain to switch over now. So remember, when you take the car to the UK, keep left.
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Did you know?
Sweden was the last EU country to switch over. They dropped the speed limit for a month and stopped all private cars for several hours while the army moved the road signs.
In most countries before the early 20th century, the side of the road people drove on wasn’t part of t0he law, but just custom.
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