What’s the Deal with Some Countries Driving on the Left Side of the Road?

What’s the Deal with Some Countries Driving on the Left Side of the Road?
As every “stupid American vacationing in Europe” film has taught us, the entire world does not drive on the right hand side. Apparently, driving on the left hand side may be beneficial for those who are most concerned with their safety…

Approximately one quarter to one third of the world's traffic travels on the left-hand side of the road. Some claim that this practice arose from the prevalence of right-handedness, although such prevalence occurs in virtually all populations, regardless of which side of the road is used. In any case, the need to be ready for self-defence on rural roads inclined most horse-riders to keep to their left when encountering oncoming wayfarers, so as to be able to deploy a sword or other hand-weapon more swiftly and effectively should the need arise. Also, those on foot and in charge of horse-drawn vehicles would more usually hold the animals' heads with their right hand, and thus walk along the left hand side of the road.

….Research in 1969 by J.J. Leeming showed that countries that drive on the left had a lower accident rate than countries that drive on the right, but this research is sharply criticized in Peter Kincaid's book on the rule of the road. Some countries that have switched to driving on the right (such as Sweden) saw their long term accident rates increase by more than any increase in traffic volumes. It has been suggested, but not proven, that this is partly because it is more common to be right-eye dominant. Traffic flows in a clockwise direction when driving on the left which enables right eyed people to use the right eye to see oncoming traffic. When overtaking on a right-side-driving road, the right-eyed driver looks in the wing mirror with the left eye and also views the oncoming traffic with the left eye which is not suited to the majority right-eyed people.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t perfectly buy that Sweden example. I am sure that part of the increase in accidents was a result of people being confused/making mistakes as a result of the change! Could you imagine if all of a sudden you were expected to drive on the opposite side of the road? It totally defies convention and would likely leave you susceptible to more accidents! Regardless, I am glad to live in a country that drives on the right side of the road. As a lefty, its nice knowing I can hold a sword facing oncoming traffic!

Wikipedia Article on Driving on the Left or Right

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posted by mikeyarmo @ 10:29 AM,


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