Selasa, 25 Januari 2011

Why do people in various countries drive on different sides of the road?

: why do we drive on the right; why do we drive on different sides

Why: Matt asked, and we wondered if our right-ness was just because we were rebelling against the British. I thought maybe it was because more people are right-handed than are loyal leftists.

Answer: Well, the left-hand-side thing originally comes from the days of riding horses and swinging swords. If you are right-handed (which most people are), you want to hold the horse reins in your left hand and keep your sword in your right. You also want people to pass you on your right so you can stab them with ease. This means you - and they - stay to the left. The Romans did this, and around 1300, Pope Boneface (Boneface?) issued a Papal Edict to his pilgrims to stay to the left.

(Although here is another theory:
Chinese bureaucracy of 1100 B.C. The Book of Rites stated: "The right side of the road is for men, the left side for women and the center for carriages." This Western Zhou dynasty rule applied only to the dynasty's wide official roads and was "more concerned with protocol than avoiding head-on collisions."

Nothing changed for a long time. Here is some theory about the beginning of traveling on the right, but I don't know:
Reasons to travel on the right are less clear, but the generally accepted version of history is as follows: The French, being Catholics, followed Pope Boneface's edict, but in the buildup to the French Revolution in 1790, the French Aristorcracy drove their carriages at great speed on the left hand side of the road, forcing the peasantry over to the right side for their own safety. Come the Revolution, instincts of self-preservation resulted in the remains of the Aristocracy joining the peasants on the right hand side of the road. The first official record of this was a keep-right rule introduced in Paris in 1794.
Meanwhile, an increase in horse traffic led the UK government to introduce a keep-left recommendation as part of the General Highways Act of 1773, and to make it into law in the Highways Bill of 1835.

The rest of the world was influenced by imperial expansion:
  • Australasia followed Britain's keep-left rule.
  • Africa was mostly keep-left - although many African countries changed to the right when they became independent.
  • India was keep-left.
  • The Japanese opened their ports to the British in the 1850s. Sir Rutherford Alcock persuaded them to keep left.
  • France's keep-right rule spread through much of modern day Europe and to colonies like Egypt
  • French General Lafayette recommended the keep-right rule to the US as he helped them prepare for the American Revolution. The first reference to a keep-right rule in the US is in a law regarding the turnpike from Lancaster to Philadelphia in 1792.
In case you were wondering, the driver usually sat on the inside so he could keep a closer eye on the clearing coming toward him. Later, however - like during the Civil War - drivers sat on the outside to ensure that their wheels didn't fall into the deep ditches on the sides of the road.

But then we stopped riding horses and carrying swords (or whips, if you were driving a buggy, or just guns).

When inventors began building "automobiles" in the 1890's, they thought of them as motorized wagons. As a result, many early cars had the steering mechanism-a rudder (or tiller), not a wheel-in the center position where the side of the road didn't make any difference. Lay points out that technical innovation created the configuration we are familiar with in the United States:

However, with the introduction of the steering wheel in 1898, a central location was no longer technically possible. Car makers usually copied existing practice and placed the driver on the curbside. Thus, most American cars produced before 1910 were made with right-side driver seating, although intended for right-side driving. Such vehicles remained in common use until 1915, and the 1908 Model T was the first of Ford's cars to feature a left-side driving position.

By 1915, the Model T had become so popular that the rest of the automakers followed Ford's lead.

Source: US Department of Transportation,

The More You Know: But why is the steering wheel of a boat on the right instead of the left? Why do boats in England stay to the right? Why? It's at the bottom of this page.

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