Curiosity

This Is Why Americans And Brits Drive On Opposite Sides Of The Road

There's an interesting explanation!

American and Brits have a lot of things in common: a shared language, an alliance during both World Wars and even an American-born British royal, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. However, there’s one thing that differs greatly between the two countries — the side of the road people drive on. While Americans drive on the right, the Brits have always driven on the left, and there’s a fascinating reason why.

According to the BBC, at one point in history, everyone drove, or rather rode, on the left. That’s because people — who tend to be right-handed — preferred to have other carriages or horseback-riders pass them on the right, where they could have their strongest hand in position with a sword or weapon if they needed to defend themselves. The British government even took it a step further and turned this preference into laws in 1773 and 1835 that legally required all horses and carriages to stay on the left when traveling on roads.

Meanwhile, in France and the U.S. during the 1700s, freight wagons pulled by horses became a popular means for transporting goods. And the best way for one wagon to pass another without incident was on the left-hand side because of the where the drivers sat in those wagons. This practice caught on and became the norm in these countries.

Because Britain and France both colonized different parts of the world during the 1800 and 1900s, they left their legacies in those places in the form of those driving laws. That’s why, in former British colonies like Australia, New Zealand and India, people continue to drive on the left side of the road. Meanwhile, former French colonies, like Algeria and Senegal, stick to the right. In some places, like the Turks and Caicos, the tradition is to drive on the left, but because most cars get imported to the island nation from the U.S., the cars have drivers’ seats on the left, which can make driving in the Turks and Caicos confusing if you’re not used to it.

Today, about 35 percent of the world drives on the left, and the remaining 65 percent drives on the right, including most of Europe outside of the U.K. It’s safe to say that the Brits and Americans will likely continue to agree to disagree about which side of the road is correct for many years to come.