Why are we driving on the right side of the road?
Why are we driving on the right side of the road?

We all know that in the UK you drive on the left side of the road while in the rest of Europe we do it on the right side. But why do we drive on either side of the road? Surely many of you can explain why UK drivers drive on the left. Just take a look around the net to find a lot of articles that explain that this circulation system comes from inherited from when driving carriages or riding on the roads. The logical thing was to circulate on the left to have the right hand free to wield a weapon in case of encountering enemies from the front, just as logical it was to circulate on the left if you were driving a carriage because with the right hand the whip was wielded and you can whip pedestrians on that side of the street in an oversight.

But why and since when is it circulating on the right in Europe? To answer this question, we again use the network and in it we can find logical explanations for driving on the left, but very few talk about driving on the right. We can read that in the world the majority of people are right-handed, so the option on the left seems the most logical while you go on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage. But one day the car was invented and things got a bit complicated.

Driving a carriage

In those early days the driver was located in the center of the car, dominating the circulation. When traffic began to increase, some manufacturers placed the driver on the left side of the vehicle, if he also circulated on the left with that position, he controlled the hedges and curbs on the edge of the road but failed to calculate the distance when driving. he was crossing with another car in the opposite direction. The options were two, place the driver on the right side of the car and continue driving on the left or keep the driver on the left and drive the cars on the right side of the street. What a dizziness. What seems clear is that it was established that as a rule, drivers had to sit in the part of the car that is farther towards the center of the road.

But we still do not know why the Europeans of the continent circulate on the right. Attending to an article on the network it seems that It was Napoleon who decided that in his country (and therefore in almost all of Europe) people should drive on the right, on the one hand to make the "fist" to the British and on the other because it seems that the emperor was left-handed and applied his logic to the circulation of his kingdom. Of course, Napoleon died a few years before the first car was invented, so we still have the same unknown.

Wikipedia comments that it circulates on the right by a series of conventions given by the majority of right-handers in the world. Being right-handed, the gear lever moves with more force if we do it with the right hand. Roundabouts are taken in an anti-clockwise direction because of the ease that most people have (right-handed) when it comes to drawing a circle. And finally we find a reference to motorcycles, that when driving on the right they signal their maneuvers with the left hand because the right hand is holding the throttle so that the motorcycle does not stop. Also when driving on the right and signaling with the left hand, it is towards the center of the street that is more visible and avoids confusion with pedestrians.

Traffic jam

We have the rest of the world, where it is circulated mainly on the side in which it was circulated in the colonial metropolis of the XIX century. For example, in India you drive on the left, as in some Asian countries, Australia, or in the African part colonized by the United Kingdom. In Japan you also drive on the left side of the road because the first vehicles that entered the country also came from the United Kingdom.

In Spain, again according to Wikipedia, the side of driving was not regulated until the 1930s, with inconsistencies as great as that in Madrid it was circulated on the left while in Barcelona it was on the right. Luckily that was normalized in 1924, but as we have already said, the norm for the whole country took a few more years to be imposed. In this way, it does not seem that there is a single reason to circulate on one side or another of the street beyond the majority of right-handers that exist in the world for whom it is easier for us to drive a car with the steering wheel on the left and that circulates on the right side of the street.

I have never driven on the left side of the street because when I have been in England I have moved with public transport, but I must admit that as a right-handed man, it is difficult for me to move the gear lever of a car with the left hand and even more difficult to reach a roundabout and turn left after a lifetime of turning right. But I imagine that everything will be getting used to.

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