Why does Australia drive on the left-hand side?
Left-hand traffic may be standard here in Australia, but it’s a trend that is in the vast minority around the world. How did this happen?
Roughly a quarter of all countries around the world drive on the left, with the rest adopting right-hand traffic. The origin of this law is as complicated as it is vague, and there are many legends that have persisted in an attempt to explain its origins. Some classics include:
- Most people are right-handed, that’s why most of the world drives on the right
- When horses are being led, the tradition is to lead them with your right hand, so people would walk on the right-hand side of the road to keep their horses separate
- Swords are usually held in the right hand, so people needed to walk on the left-hand side for self-defense
All of these are amusing anecdotes, with some small hints of truth buried in them, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Left or right – which is right?