Useful Information

Winter 2019 Newsletter

Why do some countries use Right-Hand Drive?

To many, it has always been a mystery as to why the world seemed to be divided when it comes to the location of their car’s steering wheel. Nowadays, it’s known as “right-hand driving”, where the steering wheel is placed on the right side of the car. “Left-hand driving”, on the other hand, is where the steering wheel is placed on the left side of the vehicle.

Typically, a right-hand drive vehicle drives on the “left side of the road“, or left-hand traffic (LHT). In normal conversation, it’ll be a car that “drives on the left.” On the other hand, a left-hand drive vehicle drives on the “right side of the road“, or right-hand traffic (RHT). It will be a car that “drives on the right."

Some explanations on why right-hand driving exists in some countries...

Many countries that practice right-hand driving are former (or current) British colonies. And there’s a reason behind it. During English feudalism where knights or sword fighters were still in the norm, right-handed swordsmen would prefer to keep to the “left side of the road” for the following reasons...

  • So they can easily use their right hand to wield their sword to an approaching opponent.
  • To avoid bumping into another’s scabbard, which is the thin cover of the sword that’s attached to a belt and placed on the left part the body.
  • To easily mount from the left side, and dismount from the right side of the horse.

Napoleon started to enforce left-hand driving when he conquered European countries like Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and many others. Of course, his staunch opponents like Britain stubbornly refused to do so, and maintained their right-hand driving tradition. In fact, Britain enforced this rule in all its colonies, which is the reason why India and most of its African colonies still use right-hand driving even today.
The United States, on the other hand, wanted to escape its British roots, so went towards left-hand driving, instead. Henry Ford first produced his Model T vehicles and placed the steering wheel on the left side of the car. Once these rules were set, the U.S., and many countries started practicing left-hand driving.

This map shows what countries drive left, and which drive right. With red being left hand drive, it is easy to see which style is the more popular method throughout the world.

Still, there are some countries that want to maintain their right-hand driving tradition — particularly the U.K. Other countries that also practice it include:

  • Ireland
  • South Africa
  • Kenya
  • Australia
  • Singapore
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • India
  • Hong Kong
  • Caribbean Islands