The Historic Reason Why Some Countries Drive On The Left

By | March 12, 2019

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A British taxi drives on the left side of the road. Sources: (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)

If you have ever been to England, Australian, the Bahamas, or Japan, you may have found driving to be a bit of a challenge. That’s because these countries, as well as a few more, drive on the left side of the road, even though the bulk of the world—about 75%—drive on the right side. The reason why some places prefer the left side of the road goes back hundreds of years, long before cars were even invented. So what is the historical reason why some countries drive on the left side of the road while others drive on the right? 

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Left is Best…Just ask a Knight

Knights traveling from castle to castle in medieval Europe preferred to ride their horses on the left side of the road because it offered the best protection. How so? The majority of people back then, like today, are right-handed. Traveling on the left side of the road meant that a knight’s right hand was nearest travelers in the oncoming lane. If that traveler proved to be a foe, the knight could more easily engage him in battle with his sword in his right hand instead of having to whip his horse around to fight from a better angle.