Wondering Why?

Why Do Europeans Drive On The Left Side Of The Road?

Why Do Europeans Drive On The Left Side Of The Road?

The reason why Europeans drive on the left side of the road goes a long way back to the Medieval Times. Since it was the time of violent feudal societies the swordsmen kept to the left side of the road to keep their right hand free in case they are attacked by opponents. Also, since people were mostly right-handed it was easier for them to mount their horse on the left side of the road and this way they would be able to hold the reins of the horse with their left hand while keeping their right hand free.

In the 1300′s left-side driving became a very important rule since it was mandated by the popes. However, France did not approve of it and changed to the right in opposition to the popes and to weaken their influence. A papal decree was even enforced across Europe during such time which indicated that pilgrims traversing on roads leading to Rome should keep to the left side of the road.

It was also believed that the keep left rule became widespread in Europe during the revolution because of the rule during those times that aristocrats travel on the left while peasants keep to the right. It was Napoleon who enforced the keep-right rule but countries which resisted the rule kept broadly left and these were Britain, Russia and Portugal. However during the dawn of the 1900′s Russia and Portugal had since changed to driving on the right side.

In the present time only the British and Irish people stick to the keep left rule. Since 1900′s more and more countries have shifted to driving on the right side to facilitate easier border crossings and with the onset of more advanced roads and infrastructures. However, British colonies across Europe along with Africa, Australia, New Zealand and even those that is in Asia such as Japan, Indonesia and India remain with the left side rule.

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