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  • We don't care about your metric system, we don't care about your crown, and we sure as hell don't care about exercise!

  • Different countries drive on different sides of the road.

  • The story begins long before any cars, when we were just walking around, like a bunch of schmucks.

  • Archaeologists have found paved roads dating back like 6000 years.

  • But the biggest road network by far, was built by the Romans.

  • By 200 AD, they pretty much controlled all of Europe, including Britain.

  • And since they built the roads, everyone had to to follow their rules.

  • We know that most people are right handed, and for most righties, it's much easier to mount a horse from the left.

  • And you don't want to do this in traffic, so people would do this on the left hand side of the road.

  • Riding on the left also makes it much easier to pull your sword if anyone's coming at you in an aggressive and dickish way.

  • Because of Rome, most of Europe traveled on the left for like 1800 yearslong after the Empire had fallen.

  • But today, most of Europe travels on the rightand that's because one little dude who wanted to be a dick.

  • Napoleon had a Napoleon complex.

  • His goal was to make the greatest empire ever.

  • And part of that, to him, was to make everybody drive his way.

  • He had to get rid of the roman style, and make everybody drive on the right.

  • And people were like, "Alright you already invaded, you won, it's not really a big deal, whatever. Gotta go home to my wife anyway, and she's a real piece of work."

  • But the one place Napoleon couldn't get to was England.

  • And as kind of a "screw you" to Napoleon, they made traveling on the left the law of the land.

  • Yeah, there was a guideline around in 1773 that suggested they do this, but they made it official with the Highway Act of 1835.

  • When the British and French were busy colonizing the heck out of the world, they brought their customs with them.

  • And that's why most often if a country was a French Colony like Vietnam or Morocco, they drive on the right.

  • And if they were a British colony like Australia or India, they drive on the left.

  • But there was one British Colony that didn't follow the rules.

  • America was a big fricking place, and we had to transport a lot of stuff over great distances.

  • A dinky little horse cart wasn't gonna cut it, we needed some big old wagons.

  • Two, four, or even six animal teams were the norm!

  • So, you got yourself a wagon, where you gonna sit?

  • Well, since you're probably right-handed, you're gonna sit on the left rear horse, because that makes it easier to whip all of the animals with your right hand.

  • And since you're sitting on the left, you're gonna drive on the right to make sure you don't crash into oncoming traffic.

  • America starts to drive on the right.

  • In the mid 1800s we started paving our roads.

  • We dug deep drainage ditches on each side.

  • The wagon riders didn't want to risk falling into the ditch, so they started sitting on the right.

  • So now they're driving on the right, while sitting on the right.

  • And when the first cars came along, they didn't think of that any differently.

  • The first American cars were all right-hand drive!

  • Even Henry Ford's first car, the Model A, in 1903, had its steering wheel on the right hand side.

  • But by the time he designed the Model T, there were enough cars on the road that how close you were to oncoming traffic was more important than how close you were to the edge of the road.

  • On the Model T, he moved the steering wheel to the left.

  • Ford sold nearly 15 million Model Ts in 18 years, so everyone else started to do it too.

  • But what about Japan?

  • They were never a British colony, and Napoleon never made it that far.

  • Like the Romans, and for similar reasons, the Japanese historically travelled on the left.

  • And in the mid 1800s, they needed some railroads.

  • So they reached out to Great Britain for some help.

  • It was during this period of modernization that they made it official: Japan would drive on the left.

  • Not all countries had such a smooth decision process.

  • Sweden wasn't aligned with Napoleon during his reign, so they never had to give up the Roman tradition of travelling on the left.

  • Not a big deal on horseback, but about 150 years later, 90% of Swedes drove left hand drive vehicles, in a left driving country.

  • And this led to an abnormally high amount of head-on collisions.

  • So in 1967, Sweden had Ho—, Höger—, Högertrafikom—, Högertrafikomläggningen, or right hand traffic diversion day.

  • All non-essential traffic was banned between 1 and 6 AM.

  • And If you were driving, you had to pull over at 4:50, carefully cross the road, wait a few minutes, and continue driving.

  • People got up to watch this, at 4:50!

  • As recently as 2009, Samoa switched from the right to the left.

  • The Samoan government argued that right hand drive vehicles from Australia and New Zealand would be much cheaper for Samoans to import.

  • In the days leading up to the switch, anti-switch protesters warned of mass casualties and chaos.

  • But, that didn't happen.

  • The government declared a three day holiday so nobody drove. and at 6am on the third day,

  • And on 6 am on the third day, people lined the streets to witness the crazy left hand driving.

  • And everybody was fine.

  • Dude, if we did that in LA it'd look like a disaster movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

  • And yes I still call him "The Rock." I still smell what The Rock is cooking by the way!

  • So that's why we drive where we drive.

  • And it really has little to do with cars!

  • It's a combination of a lot things: timing, convenience, or someone wanting to leave a legacy.

  • And In America, it's because we're really, really big.

  • Thanks for watching WheelHouse, remember to like, comment, share and subscribe.

  • If you like left hand drive cars, we talk about a ton of them on Up to Speed. Uh the AE86, Integra Type R—that's my personal favorite.

  • Check those out!

  • Which side of the road do you drive on? Left or Right?

  • Are you a mailman? Do you have a right hand drive car?

  • That must be kind of weird, tell us about that! Please.

  • Thanks for watching, bye!

We don't care about your metric system, we don't care about your crown, and we sure as hell don't care about exercise!

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Why Do We Drive On The Right? | WheelHouse | Donut Media

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    Jeff Chiao posted on 2021/11/17
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