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Driving on the left

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Driving on the left

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Driving on the left

If you travel frequently in Europe, you might be under the impression that everyone except the Brits drives on the right hand side of the road. In fact, about a quarter of the world’s countries do the same as us, and in the past, almost everyone travelled on the left. It was all to do with self-defence – as most people are right-handed, they felt safer walking or riding on the left, with their sword arm ready to take a swipe at any potential troublemaker. The change came in the late 1700s when France and the USA began to use carriages drawn by several horses. The driver sat on the left-hand horse and kept his right hand free to lash the other horses – and he could see better if everyone else passed on the left. When Napoleon Bonaparte began his conquests, he enforced the right-hand rule in all conquered territories, while those that opposed him, including Britain, stayed resolutely left.

Photo: Maria Gibbs

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Your comments

Driving on the left lane is something everyone worldwide immediately associates when thinking about travelling and driving in England. Only very few other countries follow the same rule.

Andrés Velasco


I don't have any problems driving on the lefthand side of the road. I had been really worried about this issue before moving to the UK though, now however, I realise that driving on the left is the same as driving on the right. But I have come across a problem on UK roads... roundabouts. See my blog: http://www.e-vlad.us/2007/05/07/driving-in-the-uk
Vlad Nanu


I drove on the left and loved it! My husband and I had to keep reminding each other to stay left, especially when turning corners. AAAAHHHHH!!!! was what we first said, then we eventually trained ourselves to say Left, LEFT, LEFT!!!!!!!! to each other. When you see driving on the left, you know it's Britain!
Sue Fahey


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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye

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