22.6k readers

Why Do We Drive on the Right Side of the Road?

Updated February 13, 2020 22.6k views5 items
Editor's Note: Voting and Reranking have been closed.

Why drive on the right? It has been long debated over the course of human history which side of the road it's more advantageous to drive on - and the type of culture and mode of transportation ends up combining in influence to dominate the laws governing the rules of the road for a particular nation. So... why do we drive on the right side of the road?

Horse-drawn wagons were common in early America, but exactly how much did wagons influence the American choice to drive in the right lane of the road? A lot, it turns out. And what unique part did Henry Ford (best known for inventing the first automobile, the Model T) play in influencing the age-old question, "why drive on the right?"

Also examined: why earlier civilizations preferred driving on the left side, and why driving on the left is still common in my places around the world. Buckle up for this fascinating history lesson about why we preferred to buck the system and check out the reasons for driving on the right side of the road.

  • What About Earlier Civilizations?

    North America drives on the right side of the road mainly because wagons were widely available at the time the US was colonized. But reports from archeological sites indicate that ancient Romans drove on the left side of the road. Why?

    The simple reason: Between bandits and wild animals, roads weren't safe for travelers. If you were walking or riding on a horse (the most common mode of transport), you needed to travel defensively - meaning you needed to be in an ideal position to unsheathe your sword to strike. Since most were right handed, you could swing a sword with your right hand and still hold the reins in your left as long as you were traveling on the left side of the road.

    This practice was common in all societies in which danger and violence lurked all around, which included all places reached by the Roman Empire. England was one such place, hence the historical origins of why the British drive on the left side of the road, they who spread this practice all over the world.