Traffic: Why do some countries drive on the right and others on the left?

Traffic: Why do some countries drive on the right and others on the left?

  • why drive we to the rightother Left?
  • Where are they from Rules?
  • who moves Where?
  • What you note should

We drive in Germany and most European countries on the right side of the street, left in Ireland. This also applies in Great Britain and other countries left-hand traffic. But why are the rules different and why do we drive on the right-hand side?

The origins of the scheme

Maybe you’ve been in before Great Britain or in Ireland traveling with your own car. When you come off the ferry, the world is different. You sit on the side away from traffic, overtaking becomes a adventure, cash registers at the toll stations or in multi-storey car parks are on the wrong side for you. And even if you rent a car there, it’s a change. how do you turn right The gear shift is operated with the left hand. After a while you get used to it, but the question remains: why is it like this here and like that there?

It still applies in 76 of the 247 independent states and regions of the world left-hand traffic. According to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung not admit. However, the original Form of road traffic left-hand traffic. According to the site the press the first regulation comes from China. In 1100 BC, Zhou Li stipulated in the “Book of Rites” that men should walk on the right side and women on the left. Another explanation is more logical: the majority of the population was right-handed, so the sword was carried on the left side to be able to draw it better. This was especially important when a potential attacker approached one. In the chariots of ancient Rome, since the fighter was right-handed, he stood on the right side in order to be able to fight better, so he drove on the left. That too dismount from the horse was mostly on the left side, so on the left side of the road one was better protected from traffic. Maybe you’ll pay attention to that, because we usually get on or off the bike or motorbike from the left.

When carriage traffic increased, the carriage drivers sat on the right-hand side. The reason for this was that when they swung the whip to spur the horses on, they didn’t accidentally passengers should meet. For reasons of clarity, however, they drove further to the left. But in the course of the desired equality decreed Robespierre During the French Revolution, all citizens had right-hand traffic, writes das Magazine PM. It is not known why he did this. This regulation was then Napoleon extended to all European countries during his conquests. And it stayed that way – almost everywhere. Only Austria-Hungary returned to driving on the left. In 1929, the Austrian Parliament decided to return to the right-hand side of the road, this was to apply from 1932. Vienna protested that this would result in an expensive tram conversion. The country was divided into a right-hand driving zone in the west and a left-hand driving zone in the east. It was only from 1938, after Austria was annexed to the German Reich, that people drove everywhere on the right-hand side, since the German traffic regulations had come into effect. And that said you have to drive on the right-hand side.

Left or Right: Problems and Consequences

In Italy in 1924 people switched from left to right. Milan was given a two-year grace period to complete that trams to rebuild. Sweden switched over in 1967. Since the conversion costs were considered too high for trams, road traffic was simply suspended in most cities. What is curious, however, is the history of Myanmar, formerly Burma. The country gained independence from Great Britain in 1948, but left-hand traffic remained. In 1970, then-President Ne Win had one Dreamwhich was interpreted by his personal soothsayer as a sign of a necessary change to legal traffic, which was then also carried out.

The change also brought problems with himself. With the trams, the doors had to be on the other side, tracks had to be relaid so that passengers could get off on the sidewalk side again. road markings was replaced. All of this cost the countries and cities a lot of money. But they had the biggest problem car manufacturer. If the steering wheel was on the right up to then, everything had to be moved to the other side. This is not so easily possible, because it was not enough to simply put the steering wheel and the pedals on the other side. European left-hand drive vehicles also have the exhaust pipe on the left, i.e. on the side facing away from the pedestrian. So that had to be changed, as well as the fuel filler neck, which moved from left to right.

What is the same for all variants: the arrangement of the pedals and the gear stick. And that’s a good thing, because imagine you get into a right-hand drive car and have to accelerate and brake with your left foot and press the clutch with your right foot. Anyone who has tried it knows what happens. You can hardly step on the clutch, but you have to brake hard every time, because our trained one motion sequence doesn’t get along with it. However, confusion arises with the turn signal lever. It sits on the left-hand side of the steering wheel on UK-made right-hand drive vehicles and on the right-hand side on Japanese right-hand drive vehicles.

Where do you turn left?

The last major change took place in Samoa – against the resistance of the population and from the right left-hand traffic. But the resistance crumbled and the changeover took place. The reason for the change was loud Focus: Samoa used to be a German colony and was therefore designed for cars driven from the left. However, all other South Sea islands followed the Anglo-Saxon model and drove right-hand drive cars. The Samoan government wanted to adapt to this Introduce from the region, such as Australia and New Zealand.

But in which ones? countries where do you drive now? In Europe there is Great Britain with the associated islands as well as in the Republic of Ireland and in Malta left-hand traffic. Basically, one can say that everywhere where the British colonial power once ruled, left-hand traffic is still valid, including in Australia, Hong Kong (although right-hand driving is used in China), New Zealand, South Africa and Cyprus. In Asia, in Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand, to name just a few, drove on the left. In Germany and almost all Central European countries, you drive on the right. Is in Germany by the way in the road traffic regulations regulated, in Paragraph 1: “Vehicles must use the lanes, the right lane of two lanes.” It is not forbidden to drive left-hand drive in countries with left-hand traffic, just as you can drive right-hand drive in Germany.

But what do you have to consider if you drive in a country with left-hand traffic? First of all, it makes a difference whether you are driving your own car or renting a vehicle there. With a left-hand drive you face some challenges. Important: Pay attention to the headlight adjustment. For Germany, these are set in such a way that the right edge of the road is further illuminated. So in the UK you would be oncoming traffic blind. Everything you do here from the left side is cumbersome, ticket booths and machines. These are on the wrong page for you. A co-driver who can do these things is worth its weight in gold. Overtaking becomes an adventure. You can see past the traffic ahead at the edge of the road, so it is difficult to see oncoming traffic. So you should be careful here. But also with a right-hand drive, according to the site dfds, it is not always necessarily easy. Especially that Turn right needs getting used to, it corresponds to our turning left. Tip: For the first few trips, orient yourself to the vehicle in front and hope it is a local. But with a little exercise you make the transition.


There will probably never be a global rule on which side you drive. For anyone who drives on the “wrong side” for the first time, this is initially a challenge. But this has to be mastered. You just have to stick to certain things and know what to expect. Then driving through the Irish or Welsh countryside is definitely fun.

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