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Have You Ever Wondered Why We Drive on the Left in Britain?

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Book Theory Test Today offers an insight into why British drivers drive on the left…

Approximately a quarter of the world’s drivers, drive on the left hand side of the road. The majority of nations that do are old British Colonies.

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “To other countries across the world, this is a strange practice, but for Britain there’s a perfectly rational explanation for it.”

Towards the end of the 1700s, road users travelled on the left because it was regarded as the ‘sensible’ option for feudal, violent communities, a high proportion of which were right-handed folk.

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “Using jousting as an example, knights would position a lance under their right arm and naturally pass their opponent on the right hand side. If you passed a stranger on the road you would keep to the left to make sure that your protective sword arm was between you and that person.”

However, it was the French who changed this practice during the revolution. Much of continental Europe underwent change because of Napoleon. He changed it because he was left-handed, so he wanted his armies to march on the right, enabling him to keep his sword arm between him and any enemy.

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “From the day that Napoleon implemented change, all those parts of the world that formed the British Empire at the time remained left hand, while all French colonies were right hand.”

In the USA, the French colonised the majority of the southern states, such as Louisiana. They also hit the Canadian east coast, including Quebec. The Dutch took over New York (then known as New Amsterdam), while the Spanish and Portuguese occupied the southern Americas.

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “With all this ‘right-hand’ colonisation, Britain ultimately became a minority in shaping the traffic.”

With America desperate to rid itself of all links associated with its British colonial past, the country adopted a drive-on-the-right-policy. Once America was driving on the right that was it, left-hand driving practically became redundant.

For a period of time American cars were deemed the most reliable, so people bought them, but America only manufactured them as right-hand drives.

With America leading the way, and dominating the motoring industry, many nations changed out of convenience.

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “Pressure has been put on Britain to switch to right-hand driving and follow suit with the rest of Europe and America, but it would cost billions.”

The last European country to switch to driving on the right was Sweden in 1967. Recently, Samoa has gone in the opposite direction, changing from right-side driving to left-side driving.

There you have it folks! It may not pop up in your theory test, but it’s certainly interesting to know don’t you think?

Book Theory Test Today offers an intermediary service assisting clients with booking a UK theory test, or practical test, at test centres across the nation. The service also supplies resources to help you prepare for your theory test – Ready to take your theory test? Book your theory test online today…



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