Drive Smart

Drive on the Left or Right ?

The most important rule of the road concerns which side to drive on. A large proportion of accidents in the world happen for this reason, with more and more people choosing car hire as the way to navigate a foreign country. Famously actor Matthew Broderick was involved in a bad collision when driving in Ireland because he forgot that they drive on the opposite side of the road.

Most areas of the world which formerly were British colonies still drive on the left hand side of the road including Australia, the Caribbean, India and South Africa. Japan also drives on the left. Europe generally drives on the right hand side apart from the Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom. Guyana and Suriname are the only countries in South America to drive on the left.

About two thirds of the countries in the world drive on the right including the USA, China and Russia. Canada used to drive on the left but changed to the right to make border crossings with the United States of America more manageable.

The reasons for driving on different sides of the road are historical. British horse riders used to ride on the left hand side of the road, thus keeping their right arm free to offer greetings to passersby or draw their sword. But in the USA Teamsters (who drove animals) used to sit on the left hand horse while driving a wagon and therefore keep their right hand free for whipping the other horses. In order to avoid collisions they decided to start driving on the right so that they could see the passing wheels of other wagons.

Some of the other major countries not previously mentioned which drive on the left are the Bahamas, Bangladesh, the Cook Islands, the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe. See the table and image below for a full list of countries that drive on the left or click here for further reading on which countries drive on the left, or our full size map here.
 
DRIVE ON THE LEFT
DRIVE ON THE RIGHT
Australia
Argentina
Channel Islands
Austria
Japan
Algeria
Hong Kong
Burma
India
France
Isle of Man
Brazil
Ireland
Belgium
Jamaica
Bulgaria
Kenya
Ukraine
Malta
China
Malaysia
Portugal
New Zealand
Canada
South Africa
Cuba
Singapore
Chile
Thailand
Czech Republic
United Kingdom
Croatia
 
Denmark
 
Egypt
 
Estonia
 
El-Salvador
 
Finland
 
Georgia
 
Ghana
 
Germany
 
Greece
 
Gibraltar
 
Hungary
 
Norway
 
Iceland
 
Israel
 
Italy
 
Jordan
 
Lithuania
 
Luxembourg
 
Mexico
 
Netherlands
 
Poland
 
Romania
 
Russia
 
Serbia
 
Slovakia
 
Switzerland
 
Slovenia
 
Saudi Arabia
 
Spain
 
Sweden
 
Turkey
 
USA
which countries drive on the leftwhich countries drive on left

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Visitor Comments

  • 12/31/2018

    Emily Jacobson

    What about turning right on red in Mexico? Legal or not?
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