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The Right Side Of The Road Isn't Always The Correct One

Aug 20, 2008
When most people hear about cars driving on the left side of the road, they associate this unique driving situation to all of Europe. However, driving on the left side of the road is mostly a British custom. The rest of Europe drives on the right side of the side, while many of the former British colonies follow their original law. Some of the other countries driving on the left side of the road is most of southern Africa, Japan, and Australia. About one-third of the world population drives on the left side of the road.

Why is it that in some countries you drive on the left side of the road, and in other countries you drive on the right side of the road? Originally, in ancient times, nearly all of the countries traveled on the left side of the roadway. However, once Napoleon began conquering the world, he required that his new countries conform to his homeland France and travel on the right side of the road.

In most cases, the differences between left and right handed driving cars are completely symmetrical. In cars the drive on the right side of the road, the driver's seat and steering wheel are on the left side. On the other hand, the driver's seat is position on the right side of vehicles in countries where the law is to drive on the left side of the road. Similarly, passing, turns against oncoming traffic, and traffic signs all take part of the opposite side of the road.

When talking about the flow of traffic, drivers in the United States drive in "right-hand traffic." However, they drive "left-hand vehicles." It's a very important to distinguish the difference. These terms are quite easy to confuse with each other. An uninformed driver could create an unfortunate accident, so it's important to take special notice in areas the law may be different.

Typically, it's not possible to license a car that is orientated incorrectly. Aside from tourists, it's illegal to drive a car that's built for the wrong side of the road. An exception to this are many countries where the driving law has recently been changed. In many cases, incorrectly orientated cars are not only illegal to drive, but also illegal to sell. The exception to this law is when the vehicle is considered an antique or exotic car.

There are a couple exceptions and interesting scenarios that may take place due to this law. One exception to the law is the postal service. In the United States, the steering wheel placed on the right side, and the vehicle drives on both sides of the road as it delivers the mail and packages. Garbage trucks, road cleaners, and law enforcement vehicles are also allowed to drive against the regular flow of traffic when considered necessary. Another fascinating conflict with that comes with opposite lanes of driving is traveling through foreign countries. In some scenarios, it may be required to switch back and forth between lanes.

For most people, driving on the correct side of the road isn't too big of a challenge. However, it's certainly an interesting bit of trivia and is definitely important information for world travelers. You never know when you may find yourself driving down the roads of Australia, or crossing the border from France into the United Kingdom.
About the Author
Oakleaf a European import car dealer supplies a full range of left hand drive cars also know as Lhd cars.
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