Left-hand Drive Vs Right-hand Drive Cars - Carorbis.com (2023)

Left-hand Drive Vs Right-hand Drive Cars - Carorbis.com (1)

When travelling to a foreign country, we encounter many new and strange things, like tasting unique food, meeting new people, different cultures and traditions, and of course new and exciting cars. But you may notice that in some countries, cars are left-hand drive vs right-hand drive in our home country.

Left-hand Drive Vs Right-hand Drive Cars - Carorbis.com (2)

In fact, depending on whether a car is a left-hand drive or right-hand drive decides which side of the road to drive on. Suppose you are from a country that drives on the left side of the road, like India, and you go to the USA as a tourist and rent a car, driving will be a little confusing because you will have to drive on the right side of the road.

If you have wondered why each country has their own set of rules on which side to drive on, then read on to find out the reasons.

Table of Contents

What is Best - Left-hand Drive Vs Right-hand Drive?

These two terms can be easily mixed up so let’s define them first. Left-hand drive means a car which has its steering wheel on the left side, so the car is driven on the right side of the road.

On the other hand, a right-hand drive is a car that has its steering wheel on the right side, therefore the car is driven on the left side of the road.

The reasons hark back to ancient times when mediaeval knights used to ride horses. Most of them used to be right-handed and would prefer to draw their sword using their right hand which was the stronger side.

The Knights preferred to travel on the left side of the road, which kept their right hand free for approaching opponents. Mounting their horse was also easier from the left-hand side of the curb away from the middle of the road.

This tradition eventually made its way to horse carriages where the carriage driver would sit on the right side of the carriage and travel on the left side of the road. They could easily gauge the distance when an approaching carriage passed by on a narrow stretch of road.

Horse carriage convention eventually transferred to motorcars when they started being driven on the same roads used by horse carriages.

Which is Better? Left Hand Drive or Right-hand Drive?

Although today we don’t use horses to get around and carrying a sword is not very common, left-hand drive spread to most parts of the world.

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It made sense because most people were right-handed and driving on the left side of the road was more convenient.

So, you must be wondering how did right hand driving start?

Napoleon Bonaparte was left-handed and he instructed his men to travel on the right side of the road, so that he could use his left hand freely in case of an attack. With the ongoing French revolution, this style of driving was adopted by France and reached other countries like the United Kingdom and Japan.

Some Interesting Facts – Left Hand Drive Vs Right Hand Drive

The biggest difference between a left-hand drive car and a right-hand drive car is the changing of gears when it is a manual transmission.

  1. USA has a left-hand driving system, but in the past, they had a right-hand driving system
  2. In the early 20th century, Ford was one of the first US manufacturing companies to switch from a right-hand driving system to a left-hand driving system. The reason being it was much safer to have a left-hand driving system because it was easier to spot oncoming vehicles.
  3. Currently, only four European countries use the left-hand driving system. The countries are Malta, Ireland, Cyprus and the United Kingdom
  4. Austria used both types of driving systems until the invasion by Hitler in 1938. Hitler mandated the use of the right-hand driving system.
  5. Napoleon Bonaparte introduced the right-hand driving system in countries like Poland, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.

Buying Imported Cars From Countries That Have a Different Driving System.

If a customer in the USA is importing a car from the Japanese domestic market, he will have on his hands a right-hand drive car that is meant to be driven on the left-hand side of the road.

Cars in the USA are left hand drive cars that are driven on the right side of the road.

Some states may have a rule that the car should be converted to a left-hand drive system before it can be used on the road.

People may be worried about what a left-hand drive conversion entails, will it be worth it and most of all, is it a safe conversion?

A steering wheel conversion from the right-hand side to the left side will require mechanical and electronic work. So, if you import a car from Japan or India to the United States, you need to employ the services of a professional for the conversion.

Even if the conversion is a success, it has to be approved by the road transport department to be considered a legal conversion, and the car will most likely have to be driven with a different number plate and have special papers to indicate the conversion.

Here are some of the procedures that a right-hand drive or left-hand drive conversion will consist of (the same applies for a left-hand drive to right-hand drive conversion):

  • Rack and pinion change over
  • Gear lever and transmission connections have to be changed
  • Dashboard and instrument cluster have to be replaced and reworked.
  • Steering wheel will be repositioned.
  • Air conditioner / heater ducts will have to be repositioned under the dashboard.

The conversion might end up being very costly and will not be worth it in the end, especially if you plan to resell the car in the future.

Countries That Drive on the Left (Right Hand Drive Cars)

The majority of countries drive on the right side of the road in left hand drive cars. This is the case with most major automobile producing countries like the United States and Germany, with the exception being Japan and the United Kingdom.

Most of the countries with right hand drive cars that drive on the left side of the road are commonwealth countries with the exception being Canada.

All European countries have left hand drive cars and drive on the right side of the road.

When countries have to import vehicles, they have to wait until manufacturers build cars specifically for their country if they have opposite driving systems. For example, New Zealand is limited to cars that they can import from Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom, or they will have to wait until other markets convert the cars they export to right hand drive systems.

This can often take months and such countries will not receive cars as soon as they hit production. This is one of the major reasons that New Zealand has a limited number of electric vehicles available for sale.

In almost all cases, in countries where one drives on the right-hand side of the road, the driver is positioned on the left-hand side of the car, and the vehicles are built to accommodate this system.

In countries where cars drive on the left-hand side of the road, the steering system is placed on the right-hand side. But this was not the norm in the past.

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Ford, in the United States of America, switched over to the left-hand driving system for its cars in the year 1908. They did this because there were benefits for the driver with the left-hand drive system.

Today, drivers sit on the side of the vehicle that is closest to the centre line of the road. But there are few exceptions such as road sweeping vehicles where the driver is closer to the curb than the centre line of the road.

Pedals and Gears

The accelerator, brake and clutch are always placed in the same positions relative to each other in a right-hand drive or left-hand drive car. The reason is most of the drivers are right-handed, which means their right leg is also stronger and has more precise control which favours the use of controlling the accelerator pedal.

Although today automatic transmissions are common in cars, back in the day, it was only manual transmission where the driver had to reach down to the gear lever to shift gears. Again, with most people being right-handed, it made sense to place the gear lever to the left of the driver so that the stronger right arm could steer the vehicle effectively. Hence, right hand drive cars were preferred.

The gear pattern in manual transmission cars remains the same in both a left-hand drive and right-hand drive car. This is done for commercial reasons as it would mean the same type of systems for local cars and cars that have to be exported.

When it comes to turn indicators, wiper controls and headlight switches, there is no standardisation in place. Most commonly, turn indicators are placed on the left-hand side of the steering column. So, this applied to right-hand drive cars in the United Kingdom as well as left-hand drive cars in the United States.

Cars manufactured in Japan and Australia had their turn indicators mounted on the right side of the steering column. This meant at one-point, certain Japanese cars made in the United Kingdom had their indicator controls on the opposite side of cars made in Japan for the British market. Off late, Japanese models have conformed to European standards to have the indicator controls placed on the left side of the steering column.

Left hand-drive cars that drive on the right side of the road have their headlights designed so that they focus slightly to the right when they are on low beam. This system is exactly the opposite with cars that drive on the left-hand side of the road.

This is done so that the oncoming vehicles are not dazzled by headlights. Windscreen wipers are also designed to provide more coverage on the driver side than the passenger side to have better vision of the road ahead.

Conclusion

Among the many things that divide the world, the automobile industry adds one point to the list. We have both left-hand drive cars and right-hand drive cars depending on which country you are driving in.

Historically, it is seen that countries that were part of the French colonial empire adopted the left-hand drive system for cars where the vehicle is driven on the right-hand side of the road.

This is opposed to countries that came under the British colonial empire where cars are of the right-hand drive system and drive on the left-hand side of the road.

Although some countries have now converted from left hand side to right hand side or vice versa, countries remain divided by these two types of driving systems.

It is difficult to say which is better for sure, but the fact is that majority of the population is right-handed, and it would make sense to have your stronger arm on the wheel while the other arm is busy changing gears or fiddling with the stereo.

Overall, there is no way to decide which is better than the other. It may only be that a right-hand drive car will favour a right-handed individual when he is changing the gears in a manual transmission vehicle.

Seemingly, the difficulty level is the same. The only problem is when a person used to driving a left-hand drive car has to move to a right-hand drive car. It is a case of rewiring the brain which may take some time and practice.

Other than this, there seems to be no major difference between left hand drive systems and right-hand drive systems.

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FAQs

Which is better left-hand drive or right hand drive? ›

Most people would say that steering needs more control, which means that it's better to keep your dominant hands on the wheel. In this case, right-handers are probably at an advantage, as left-handers have to adapt to steering with their weaker hands. In the case of manual driving, then, being right-handed wins!

Does Cyprus have left-hand traffic? ›

Here are some rules and driving tips when driving in Cyprus that you need to know of before you start your journey: In Cyprus, they drive on the left-hand side of the road like in the UK and overtake on the right.

Why is left hand driving better? ›

Left Hand countries deliver safer driving

In left-hand traffic systems, the better-perfoming right eye is used to monitor oncoming traffic and the driver's wing mirror. In right-hand traffic, the weaker left eye takes over.

Are left hand drives more expensive to insure? ›

There's not much difference between left-hand drive car insurance and right-hand drive car insurance. It's easy to find cover for left hand drive cars and it won't affect your premium, unless you've made other changes to the car.

Which is safer left or right side driving? ›

More traffic means the likelihood that there is a motorist on the road that is going to make an error. It is therefore, more accurate to conclude that collisions are attributed to multiple factors and have very little to do with whether a country drives on the left or on the right.

Is left-hand drive difficult? ›

Seemingly, the difficulty level is the same. The only problem is when a person used to driving a left-hand drive car has to move to a right-hand drive car. It is a case of rewiring the brain which may take some time and practice.

Why do Cypriots drive on the left? ›

Due to the UK's influence over Cyprus (the small island was once part of the British Empire), Cypriots drive on the left.

Why do cars drive on the left in Cyprus? ›

The riders moved on the left side of the road, to have their right hand free, in case they had to draw their sword to defend themselves against the enemy, which might have been coming from across the street. This habit became an institution in 1300 by decision of the Pope Boniface the 8th.

Are Cyprus cars right hand drive? ›

What side of the road do they drive on in Cyprus? In Cyprus, motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road, just like they do in the UK.

What are the disadvantages of using left hand? ›

Since 90 per cent of the population is right-handed, left-handed people do experience some practical problems, including:
  • Western writing runs from left to right. ...
  • Left-handed children learning to write often write back to front ('mirror' writing). ...
  • Implements such as scissors are designed for use with the right hand.

Do left handers crash more? ›

Those findings have been roundly challenged, even discounted by many scholars since then. But new studies pop up all the time showing that lefties are, at the least, more prone to accidents, both on the road and off it.

Why do Americans drive on the left? ›

The reasons for this are not entirely certain, but some believe it arose as a matter of safety. The majority of people are right handed, one theory goes, so driving or riding on the left would have allowed them to wield a weapon with their dominant hand if they crossed paths with an enemy.

Why are most cars left hand drive? ›

The practice is believed to date back to ancient Rome. Romans steered their carts and chariots with the left hand, to free up the right so they could use weapons to defend against enemy attacks. This carried over into medieval Europe and in 1773, the British government passed measures to make left-hand traffic the law.

Is it cheaper to have 1 or 2 drivers on car insurance? ›

Your monthly premium will reflect the added risk of multiple drivers using one vehicle — so you'll most likely pay more than you would for a single-driver policy. However, a multiple-driver policy is usually cheaper than purchasing two individual auto insurance policies.

Is Japan left or right-hand drive? ›

In Japan, vehicles usually drive on the left-hand side of the road. Be sure to obey any signs that indicate a speed limit. The legal speed limit is 60 km per hour on general roads and 100 km per hour on expressways.

Why do Aussies drive on the left? ›

Australia: Left-hand traffic

We drive on the left for one reason and one reason only: Britain told us to. No, really. As a British colony up until we became a federation in 1901, Australia readily adopted left-hand traffic, no doubt because it made both cultural and economic sense to do so.

Why do Europeans drive on the right? ›

The subsequent Revolutionary wars and Napoleon's European conquests led to the spread of driving on the right to Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Napoleon ordered his armies to use the right-hand side of the road in order to avoid congestion during military manoeuvres.

Why did America choose to drive on the right side of the road? ›

With the growth of traffic, the roadside ditches also led to a growing tendency in the United States in the late nineteenth century for drivers of light horse-drawn vehicles to both drive on the right and sit on the right to avoid the greater evil of the ditch.

Which country has no left-hand drive? ›

About two thirds of the countries in the world drive on the right including the USA, China and Russia. Canada used to drive on the left but changed to the right to make border crossings with the United States of America more manageable. The reasons for driving on different sides of the road are historical.

Can left-hand drive convert to right? ›

You can convert a vehicle from left-hand drive to right-hand drive. The conversion process of a vehicle from LHD to RHD is not an easy one. It involves the following steps: Dismantling of the entire dashboard, including everything below it.

What percentage of the world is left-hand drive? ›

About 30% of the world's population drive on the left-hand side of the road but why is this? Interestingly, the answer to this question is thought to lie within ancient Rome. Archaeology has suggested that the Romans used to ride their horses, carts and chariots on the left.

Why does Cyprus not have street view? ›

Google Street View is finally available for Cyprus following a Nicosia municipality and a RISE Research Centre collaboration. According to philenews, the municipality and RISE took on the task to record images of walled Nicosia and submit them on Google Street View.

What is the age limit for driving in Cyprus? ›

The minimum driving age is 18 years old. The minimum driving age for learner drivers of salon cars is 17.5 years old. Riding a motorbike is permitted from the age of 17. The maximum speed limit is 100 km/h for buses, passenger cars and motorcyclists.

Is driving in Cyprus hard? ›

Driving Cyprus is also very easy and safe – even for scaredy cats like me – and I wouldn't hesitate to rent a vehicle from Astra Car Rental again. Professional, friendly and well-organised, they made the whole thing a breeze and, dare I say it, even enjoyable!

Can you drive in flip flops in Cyprus? ›

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle or a pedal bicycle when under the influence of alcohol. It is advisable to wear suitable footwear when driving; flip-flops or bare feet should be avoided.

Do I need a 4x4 in Cyprus? ›

A 4WD is worth considering

When driving in Cyprus, it's a good idea to consider renting a 4WD. While it's by no means necessary, particularly if you're sticking to the highways, there are a lot of dirt and unpaved roads that go to some of the tourist attractions.

What is the most popular car in Cyprus? ›

Market Trend
Rank 2018Rank 2017
11Toyota
23Ford
34Kia
42Nissan
6 more rows

Are cars cheaper in Cyprus? ›

Buying a car in Cyprus

It may be more cost-effective to purchase a car on the island, however, if excise taxes add up when shipping yours over. It's worth noting that cars tend to retain their value more in Cyprus than they do in the UK.

Are Greek cars left hand drive? ›

Almost always, in countries where one drives on the right-hand side of the road, the cars are built so that the driver sits on the left-hand side of the car.
...
List of all left- & right-driving countries around the world.
Country / state / territorydrive(s) on theleft / right
Greecedrives on theright
158 more rows
24 Jan 2022

Does Turkish Cyprus drive on the left? ›

Cypriot driving regulations are similar to those in the UK and driving is on the left.

What country has the most left-handed people? ›

McManus which found that the Netherlands has one of the world's highest prevalences of left-handedness at 13.23 percent. The United States isn't far behind with a rate of 13.1 percent while neighboring Canada has 12.8 percent.

What profession has the most left handers? ›

In a 1996 study, Harvard Medical School researchers found that orthopedic surgeons, librarians and mathematicians were mostly right-handed while attorneys and architects were, as a group, "either the least right-handed or the most left-handed." Other studies have shown that there are more left-handed people working as ...

Why is being left-handed so rare? ›

In fact, one of the more unusual hypotheses to explain the rarity of left-handedness is that a genetic mutation in our distant past caused the language centres of the human brain to shift to the left hemisphere, effectively causing right-handedness to dominate, Alasdair Wilkins explains for io9 back in 2011.

Do left-handers have better memory? ›

Lefties--or at least relatives of lefties--may be better than right-handed people at remembering events, according to a new study. Since the mid-1980s, scientists have known that the two brain hemispheres of left-handers are more strongly connected than those of right-handers.

Do lefties get angry? ›

Lefties get angrier

A study in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease suggested that those who are left-handed are more prone to negative emotions.

Do left-handed people get angry easily? ›

Other studies have found that non-right-handers experience more negative emotions. Both findings could be due to the fact that non-righties are more likely to have unusual brain lateralization, which could affect the way their brains process fear and anger.

Why are old French cars right-hand drive? ›

After the Middle Ages, European countries like France and England started to make their own choice about which side of the road to prefer. England was the first nation to pass an official rule, in 1773, which made driving on the left the law. France, on the other hand, chose to drive on the right.

Does China drive on the left? ›

Laws. In mainland China, traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road. Various neighbours such as Hong Kong, Macau, India, Nepal and Pakistan drive on the left.

Why do British cars have steering wheel on right side? ›

From left to right

Rather than sitting on a coach box, the coachman would ride on the left rear horse so that he could spur on the team of horses by using his whip on the right. This made it more advantageous for carriages to pass on each other's left side, giving rise to driving on the right.

What country drives the most? ›

Americans drive a lot. Far more than residents in most other countries. That may not come as a shock, but it has implications for all of our lives.

What percentage of the world's cars are right hand drive? ›

But why do some countries stick to the left? We can thank the Roman Empire.

Can 2 drivers insure the same car? ›

You and your partner can both take out separate policies for the same car. Car insurance policies are for both the vehicle and the driver, so it's perfectly fine, legal and common for two people to be insured on the same vehicle under separate policies. There are a few reasons why you might consider doing this.

Can 2 people drive the same car? ›

There's no limit to how many people can drive the car, so any friends or family, who have your permission, are legally insured to drive it. This type of car insurance is far less common, as most people only have one, or a few, named drivers added to their existing policy.

Can I be the primary driver on 2 cars? ›

Can one person be the primary driver on two cars? Yes. Most, if not all, insurance companies will allow you to name one primary driver for two or more cars. In fact, many companies will even provide you with a multi-car discount on your premiums when you register multiple vehicles.

Is Dubai cars right hand drive? ›

Vehicles in Dubai have the steering wheel on the left and they drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Why does Korea drive on the right? ›

Korea now drives right, but only because it passed directly from Japanese colonial rule to American and Russian influence at the end of the Second World War. Pakistan also considered changing to the right in the 1960s, but ultimately decided not to do it.

Why do they drive on the left in Thailand? ›

The reason why Thailand drives on the left side of the road is that the first car in Thailand was a gift from the Royal Family of England to the King of Thailand back in the 1900s. Since the United Kingdom drives on the left side of the road, the car given was made for left-hand driving.

Are right hand drive cars safer? ›

Looking at all crashes during the follow-up period it can be seen that RHD drivers had a higher crash rate (12.56 crashes/100 policy-years compared to 9.59). RHD drivers were 31% more likely to have a crash than the LHD drivers in the first 2 years.

Is it better to drive with two hands? ›

Recommendations for driving with both hands on the wheel are there for good reason: With two hands on the wheel drivers can exercise far more control in maneuvering the vehicle in case of a sudden emergency.

Why are old American cars right hand drive? ›

With the growth of traffic, the roadside ditches also led to a growing tendency in the United States in the late nineteenth century for drivers of light horse-drawn vehicles to both drive on the right and sit on the right to avoid the greater evil of the ditch.

What is the reason for right hand cars? ›

In the US, right-hand traffic goes back to the 18th century. Freight wagons were pulled by teams of horses. and the drivers rode on the left rear horse, using their right hand to more easily control the team. Traffic shifted to the right so drivers could easily avoid collisions.

Why do British cars have right hand drive? ›

Have you ever wondered why the British drive on the left? There is an historical reason for this; it's all to do with keeping your sword hand free! In the Middle Ages you never knew who you were going to meet when travelling on horseback.

Where is the safest place to drive with your hands? ›

Hand position on steering wheel

You probably learned to keep your hands at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions on the steering wheel. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends drivers put their hands at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions.

Why do you put your hands at 10 and 2? ›

Holding the wheel at 10 and 2 is a remnant from an era before power steering became standard on all vehicles, when turning required more force to get your wheel to move. The 10 and 2 position allowed you to pull down on the wheel when making a turn, which was the easiest way to do it.

What is the safest hand position when driving? ›

NHTSA recommends the driver use the area of the steering wheel area between “11 and 8 o'clock” with their left and the “1 and 8 o'clock” area with their right, regardless of which way they're turning. Using the hand-to-hand or push/pull steering method helps prevent injuries.

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