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Old 21st January 2009, 13:23   #1
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Default Interesting facts about Left Side or Right Side Driving

Hello Readers,

I was curious about why we drive on left side of the road & others (America, France,..) on the right side. Found many interesting facts on net and would like to share with you all, even though most of you would have known these things.
  • Today 75 countries have left side driving rules & 164 countries right side driving.
  • About 28% of world’s total road distance carries traffic on left side and 72% on right side.
3. In the past, there were several countries which had different rules in different parts of the country (eg. Canada until the 1920s).Currently, China is the only exception to this rule, with Hong Kong and Macau driving on the left while the rest of China drives on the right.
  1. Today, only four European countries continue to drive on the left: Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom.
  2. In the Middle Ages people kept to the left for the simple reason that they never knew who they would meet on the road in those days. They wanted to make sure that a stranger passed on the right so they could go for their sword in case he proved unfriendly. As more people are right-handed, horsemen would thus be able to hold the reins with their left hands and keep their right hand free. This custom was given official sanction in 1300 AD, when Pope Boniface VIII invented the modern science of traffic control by declaring that pilgrims headed to Rome should keep left.
6. The papal system prevailed until the late 1700s, when teamsters in the United States and France began hauling farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had no driver's seat so a driver sat on the left rear horse and held his whip in his right hand. Seated on the left, the driver preferred that other wagons pass him on the left so that he could be sure to keep clear of the wheels of oncoming wagons. He did that by driving on the right side of the road.
  1. In France the keep-right custom was established in much the same way. Later Napoleon enforced the keep-right rule in all countries occupied by his armies. The custom endured even after the empire was destroyed.
  2. In England, though, they didn't use monster wagons that required the driver to ride a horse. Instead the guy sat on a seat mounted on the wagon. He usually sat on the right side of the seat so the whip wouldn't hang up on the load behind him when he flogged the horses. So the English continued to drive on the left. Keeping left first entered English law in 1756, with the enactment of an ordinance governing traffic on the London Bridge, and ultimately became the rule throughout the British Empire.
  3. Countries that came under British rule like India adopted the British keep-left rule, although many have since changed. Canada, for example.
  4. The English minister to Japan achieved the coup of his career in 1859 when he persuaded his hosts to make keep-left the law in the future home of Toyota and Honda.
11. Over the course of the 20th century, there was a gradual worldwide shift from driving on the left to the right.
  1. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, it brutally suppressed the latter's keep-left rights, and much the same happened in Czechoslovakia in 1939. The last holdouts in mainland Europe, the Swedes, finally switched to the right in 1967 because most of the countries they sold Saabs and Volvos to were righties and they got tired of having to make different versions for domestic use and export.
  2. The most common reason for countries to switch to right-hand traffic is for conformity with neighbors, as it increases the safety of cross-border traffic.
14. On lighter note will Bangalore’s some famous right side driving roads leave a foot note in history.

Last edited by Technocrat : 21st January 2009 at 13:31. Reason: Removed Font tags
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Old 21st January 2009, 13:36   #2
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Nice compilation

Most of the content looks from Here

Please make sure that you also provide references as well.
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Old 21st January 2009, 13:59   #3
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I do remember reading a book by Frederick Forsyth(not sure which one now) wherein he mentions that many studies have ,apparently , proven that left side driving is a bit safer than the right side driving- or at least has the potential to result in fewer accidents.
This is because in a situation where head-on collision may occur, most men have a natural tendency to veer the steering towards the left.ie counter clockwise movement of the steering (much like, in a dance,when you are asked to circle, right handed men normally do a counter clockwise circle. Few people, and mostly lefthanders, do a clockwise circle).

In the case of right side driving, in a hypothetical 2 lane situation, this tendency may mean that you avoid one vehicle to hit another,whereas in the left side driving case, it may mean that you move off the road into the mud or bushes etc.
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Old 21st January 2009, 14:11   #4
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Auto rickshaws are the future.

I did not know the history behind the left or right. Thanks for an interesting article.
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Old 21st January 2009, 14:13   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
Auto rickshaws are the future.
Did you mean they sit in the middle or because they drive on the wrong side in Hyderabad?

Last edited by watashi75 : 21st January 2009 at 14:14.
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Old 25th May 2009, 14:00   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kreddy View Post
.... They wanted to make sure that a stranger passed on the right so they could go for their sword in case he proved unfriendly. ...
Another interesting and related fact :

In a lot of castles with spiral staircases (in the turrets etc) the stairs always a ascend clockwise.
This is because the soldiers defending the castle (descending the steps) would be able to use their right hand & sword better in this situation than the attacking soldiers coming up the steps (whos right hand would be cramped by the central part of the staircase).

cya
R
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Old 25th May 2009, 14:45   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post
Another interesting and related fact :

In a lot of castles with spiral staircases (in the turrets etc) the stairs always a ascend clockwise.
This is because the soldiers defending the castle (descending the steps) would be able to use their right hand & sword better in this situation than the attacking soldiers coming up the steps (whos right hand would be cramped by the central part of the staircase).

cya
R
Actually, IMO it would have been worse -- since in a spiral staircase you tend to climb up/down on the broader outer edge: A soldier coming down the stairs would have his sword arm cramped by the outer wall, while the one climbing up would have his sword arm along the stair centerline and have more room for movement.

Just wondering...
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Old 25th May 2009, 15:54   #8
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Very interesting thread. I remember reading that the US soldiers starting moving on the right side of the road during the war of independence. The reason cited was - Defiance. The British units moved on the left side and to defy them and have a separate identity the US troops moved on the right side. This was the origin on left hand drive. Qwerky this may seem, but our US pals are known to be this way. This was the origin on left hand drive.

Kreddy, the article was very informative.

+1 to your observation 71convertible.
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Old 25th May 2009, 16:31   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 71Convertible View Post
Actually, IMO it would have been worse -- since in a spiral staircase you tend to climb up/down on the broader outer edge: A soldier coming down the stairs would have his sword arm cramped by the outer wall, while the one climbing up would have his sword arm along the stair centerline and have more room for movement.

Just wondering...
71C,

I guess you are picturing a fairly wide spiral staircase? What i am talking about is just about wide enough for 1 person, and the inside of the stairs touch the central axis.

Something like this :
Name:  227231954_8eff876d1c.jpg
Views: 7172
Size:  121.2 KB
Source : Spiral staircase. Portchester Castle on Flickr - Photo Sharing!


If you are ascending, and the person higher up is more than a 1/4 revolution away, the central column will get in your right-handed way, whereas not so much for the person above you.

Still have doubts? Lets meet at the old water tower at 6pm. (I will be there before you). Bring your sword!

cya
R

Last edited by Rehaan : 25th May 2009 at 16:32.
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Old 19th March 2010, 12:10   #10
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An interesting thread revived after a long time.
@Rehaan: I think the clockwise winding up of the stairs has to do more with the type of possible attack than available space. Defending man fighting from top would use descending forehand strike of sword while assaulting man from bottom would use ascending thrust of his sword. Clockwise up (as in your picture) would give advantage to the defender (while forcing the attacker into a backhand thrust upward) and anti clockwise would not.
Anyone any idea as to what was the left/right traffic system in ancient Rome/India/China/Egypt? Think it must have been keep-left?
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Old 4th November 2010, 19:57   #11
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Default right side driving is right officially on one road in Bangalore

I am reviving this right and left side driving thread. Not sure someone has shared this, but I have been meaning to for very long. There is a stretch of road in central bangalore - Commissariat road near Garuda Mall, all traffic moves on the right side, like in US or UK. See pics.
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Old 4th November 2010, 21:18   #12
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Interesting thread indeed. It is too late to put my 2c here, but better be late than never...

- I've read somewhere that RHD is seen as more safer than LHD because the driver of a RHD vehicle can hold the steering with his right hand (the "by default" hand) when he shifts the gear which is placed in his left. This theory is not applicable if you are driving a slushbox of course.
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Old 4th November 2010, 21:43   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhuli View Post
I am reviving this right and left side driving thread. Not sure someone has shared this, but I have been meaning to for very long. There is a stretch of road in central bangalore - Commissariat road near Garuda Mall, all traffic moves on the right side, like in US or UK. See pics.
Yes, you are right about that part of Bangalore. It's just about as weird as Bangalore's traffic planning can get. Motorcycles riding on the footpath, cab drivers (and now even private vehicle owners) merging on to a road in the opposite lane, standing in the wrong lane at signals etc. are just given a miss by the traffic police. It guess that it's just something to expect in this city.

By the way folks, what is your opinion of a left hand drive vehicle v/s a right hand drive one? Which one do you prefer? Personally, I think that I could never tolerate steering a car in the left seat. Changing the gear with my right hand seems odd.
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Old 4th November 2010, 23:18   #14
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Bangalore is a bit of a contradiction, if you ask me. If we all remember, probably Bangalore was the only city in the world which had a traffic signal on a small flyover, though it was manned by a cop. The richmond road flyover, if you still can't remember. It barely has space for two lanes in the space the up ramps and down ramps merge, and they had the wonderful insight of stationing a cop there and a criss cross of traffic would happen. Thank God they have done away with that, but what has come up in its place , is nothing to write home about.


@Sydras : I guess for me personally, after a while both right and left side are ok. The trickiest bits for me, driving a LHD car are when I get on to a round about and am expected to follow the "right of way". Not used to it , you see
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Old 6th November 2010, 01:27   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v-drive View Post
@Sydras : I guess for me personally, after a while both right and left side are ok. The trickiest bits for me, driving a LHD car are when I get on to a round about and am expected to follow the "right of way". Not used to it , you see
I'm still trying to get a grip on driving in the right lane in case of an LHD vehicle. Not yet able to imagine how to do a roundabout in an LHD .

I guess I could get used to driving an LHD car if it were an automatic. I think an automatic would make things much simpler.
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