Anyone know the real history why Brits put their steering wheels on the other side? What's the logic?



Answers:

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Randy there's a lot of theories about this and the reasons are somewhat confused. According to Bill Bryson a few US cities had "keep to the left" traffic rules until very early in the 20th century. I think he mentioned Cincinatti as one.

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Anyhoo, here is a chronology.

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We were first so why did the yanks have to be different?

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They probably ask the same thing about us.

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The British put there steering wheel on the right following the rules of jousting. The "jousting pole" (can't think of its proper name) was/is always carried with the right hand and the horses would always pass each other on there right side. Thus, they drive on the left so the on coming horse, or car passes on the right in a similar fashion. The steering wheel was placed on the right to have a better view of the road while driving on the left and to make it easier to get your stuff when going through a drive through!

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I have just read of a recent dig in a Roman quarry that showed rut marks on the old Roman road surface, suggesting that the Romans drove on the left, just as the British and Australians do today.

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It is my understanding that it was at Napoleon's instigation that driving on the right was enforced throughout Europe. Was there a logical reason for this at the time (or now) or is there no real benefit to either system?

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In olden days the nobility would ride on the left so their sword hand, usually the right hand, would be on the same side as an oncoming horseman. Conversely, with armed nobility riding around, it made sense for peasants to walk on the right, facing the oncoming traffic.

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In France after the revolution it was a bad idea to be mistaken for nobility, so everyone started to travel on the right. Napoleon carried this convention with him as he conquered large parts of Europe and built the first international road system since the Romans.

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Riding on the left to present the dominant side for the sword hand made sense at that time, and most castles have clockwise spiral staircases to make it easier for a right-handed defender to fight off a right-hander below

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Napoleon switched the convention in Europe from driving on the left to driving on the right for a simple reason - he was left-handed. This meant he mounted and dismounted his horse on the right-hand side, which he naturally preferred to be at the road edge. So the peasantry followed.

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The French help the American in war of independence. So the Americans just followed suit
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