Eli5: If we drive on the right, the driver sits on the left; if we drive on the left, the driver sits on the right. Is there a reason/advantage for this?


Recently back to Canada from Dublin, and driving here after taking a week to get used to opposite-land got me wondering.

In: 4

Driver is always closest to oncoming traffic. Presumably the driver can judge distances & directions best on the side they are closest too; by making that the side closest to oncoming traffic you apply that ability to the situations that are most likely to be fatal.

Martial combat. The origin of “driving” on the opposite side as you drive comes from martial combat, where it puts you and your opponent in favorable positions to strike at one another. Much like the size of the space shuttle, the reality has been obscured by centuries of tradition.

It makes it easier to overtake.

If you are driving on the left, you typically overtake another vehicle moving in the same direction from the right ( and from the left if you are driving on the right…i will continue the rest of explanation from left hand driving country perspective ).

Having the driver situated on the side of the incoming traffic makes it easier for the driver to pull slightly to the right, assess what is the situation in front of the vehicle she wants to overtake and decide. Especially important in smaller roads which don’t have road dividers or multiple lanes for traffic.

Could you imagine trying to pass or overtake someone when you can’t see beyond the car in front of you? I believe that may be why.

There are a few reasons. The biggest one I can think of is you know how close you are to oncoming traffic. Much easier to see when you’re close than from the other side of the car.