Why Europeans drive on the wrong side of the road (gun related)


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Horsesense
June 20, 2006, 10:45 AM
Why Europeans drive on the wrong side of the road (gun related)

My sister recently went on a tour of Scotland and on one of the tour's, the guide explained that when passing on horseback, riders would want to have room to draw their sword and fight if necessary. Because most people were right handed, they would pass with the stranger on the right.

The guide told the story with the expected dramatic flair and as the people on the tour, a mixture of American and other Europeans, silently contemplated the violent image the guide had painted, my sister nonchalantly spoke up and said “in America, we just carry guns” :neener:

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TallPine
June 20, 2006, 12:10 PM
Nice comeback :D

Though I have heard that some Scots consider fighting with guns to be a "sissy" endeavor, compared to fighting face to face with the claidheamh ;)

zahc
June 20, 2006, 12:29 PM
That makes sense. From what I heard the reason we drive on the right in アメリカ is that cargo wagons in the old days originally had the driver's pod on the left side.

I do like her comeback, though.

Tory
June 20, 2006, 12:51 PM
EUROPEANS DO drive on the right.

Only those countries which were under British rule drive on the left, except Canada, where it made more sense to accommodate the Americans.

The Grand Inquisitor
June 20, 2006, 01:07 PM
Tory is 100% correct.

Driving is rational in every country in the world except for the ones in which the British botched. After living in australia for a year or so, I almost got used to driving on the left, but it still never really settled in getting in on the passenger side...


All that said, Australia is the greatest country on Earth, even with its awful gun and driving laws.

Zen21Tao
June 20, 2006, 02:43 PM
Though I have heard that some Scots consider fighting with guns to be a "sissy" endeavor, compared to fighting face to face with the claidheamh

Well, I guess I would rather live a "sissy" life than to die a "manly" death. :D :evil:

hso
June 20, 2006, 02:45 PM
Cute, but bad comeback since it plays into the Cartoon Cowboy image of Americans.

EOD Guy
June 20, 2006, 02:53 PM
Only those countries which were under British rule drive on the left, except Canada, where it made more sense to accommodate the Americans.

Not quite. Drivers, in both Japan and Thailand, neither of which was ever under British rule, drive on the left side of the road.

There are 74 countries, islands, territories, etc, that drive on the left, including the US Virgin Islands. Most did have British influence at one time or currently do.

The World of Left Side Driving (http://users.pandora.be/worldstandards/driving%20on%20the%20left.htm#leftdriving)

Crimson
June 20, 2006, 03:36 PM
I heard the reason that one must drive on the left was that people had to walk past the king of the left side. The sword thing makes more sense.

People drive on the left in Ireland too.

ProficientRifleman
June 20, 2006, 03:43 PM
The first post in this thread is corect. Pass on the left becasue you would have your sword in your right hand.

Now, look at the re-enactment of a Joust. They pass on the RIGHT SIDE of the fence! It makes no sense at all!

Instead of passing on the left, which would put your lance almost dead on if maybe 5 degrees offset, they (now-a-days) pass on the right which offsets your lance by 30-35 degrees at the moment of impact. Someone should school those silly re-enactors!

But hey, what do I know. Prolly nuttin.

asiparks
June 20, 2006, 03:58 PM
I think that the intention with jousting is to merely topple or mildly maim your opponent, rather than run them through with a large stick at 20 mph. Perhaps after running low on valiant Knights, a switch to the right seemed in order.

M67
June 20, 2006, 04:30 PM
Only those countries which were under British rule drive on the left, except Canada, where it made more sense to accommodate the Americans. "British" Canadians used to drive on the left, "French" Canadians on the right. Newfoundland was the last to change over, in 1947. So maybe the Canadians didn't change to accomodate the Americans, maybe it was the English-speakers of North America who changed to accomodate Quebec and Louisiana? :p

Gibraltar has right-hand driving, despite being British.

The US Virgin Islands has left-hand driving, despite being the ex Danish Virgin Islands bought by the US in the early 20th century, and as such never had a left-hand drive mother country.

cambeul41
June 20, 2006, 05:02 PM
My understanding is that the English set up their traffic rules to make it more convenient to fight those they encountered on the road, and the Europeans set theirs to make it more difficult.


I will refrain from turning this into an ethnic joke.

Cromlech
June 20, 2006, 07:03 PM
Erm . . .I understand that we are the odd ones out, so to speak, but what is inherently wrong with driving on the left?

The steering wheel is on the right hand side of the cars here in the U.K, so it's not like we are at a disadvantage when it comes to visibility or anything else.

If you mean it's silly because of a lack of conformity/uniformity with the rest of Europe or America, well we have kind of been driving on the left of the road here for almost 2000 years (As well as the rest of Europe up until that nitwit Napoleon, who was left handed, changed it) .


Those crazy Romans and their wacky ideas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_hand_drive

^This article also explains the advantadges and disadvantadges of both RHD and LHD.^

cambeul41
June 20, 2006, 08:05 PM
But those of us who are practiced in driving only on either side can make a total balls-up by turning corners and in the process, reverting to our normal side of the road.

Cromlech
June 20, 2006, 08:55 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Yeah, so it really boils down to a lack of conformity. I drive a forklift which is single seat (dead centre) and that is easy, as well as an electric buggy that has the steering wheel on the left hand side. It is still extremely easy to drive on the left hand side of the road.

I guess some people won't be able to adapt as easily though.

Tory
June 20, 2006, 09:12 PM
Erm . . .I understand that we are the odd ones out, so to speak, but what is inherently wrong with driving on the left?

Most people are RIGHT-handed, thus making LH drive (gear shift in the middle, on top of the tranny) easier for the majority. Other than that, it is a fairly arbitrary decision, such as reading left-right v. right left or top-down v. bottom-up.

Being fairly ambidextrous, I had little problem shifting my RHD Sprite. As road courses run CLOCKWISE in this country, I had a marginal advantage in weight distribution. ;)

Cromlech
June 20, 2006, 11:24 PM
Most people are RIGHT-handed, thus making LH drive (gear shift in the middle, on top of the tranny) easier for the majority.

The article I posted a link to makes the claim that the stronger hand can be better suited for using the steering wheel, rather than a simple stick. Although saying that, It also argues the point for using your strong hand for the gear change , so whataya gonna do? :D

acdodd
June 20, 2006, 11:29 PM
How are the accelerator and clutch pedals arranged?
Same as in the US or reversed?
When I was in Australia I rode with a local guy but we were all too drunk for me to notice. Mostly I was just holding on for my life. I was glad to get to the next bar so I could walk back to the fleet landing.
AC

Cromlech
June 20, 2006, 11:48 PM
From left to right:

Clutch
Brake
Accelerator

TallPine
June 20, 2006, 11:53 PM
I used to work with a guy that told me about driving those huge off road dump trucks - I think they were hauling fill for a dam or something.

The trucks were something like 12 feet wide and the haul road was built just wide enough to accomodate two way traffic.

The trucks were RH drive but they drove on the left side - the idea was that it was easier to just follow the road edge than try to make sure you were over far enough but not too far to pass oncoming trucks. I don't think they drove particularly slow, either ;)

So there is a different twist to the question.

The_Antibubba
June 20, 2006, 11:59 PM
So how does one explain the drivers in South Florida, where there seem to be no road conventions at all? :eek: :eek: :eek:

Wheeler
June 21, 2006, 12:13 AM
It is my understanding that the traffic on London Bridge became so bad, what with the hawkers and vendors, that a law, (not sure if it was a city thing or a royal edict) was passed having all traffic move to the left of the road. Over time, it passed on to the road system.

The American system of travelling on the RIGHT side of the road came about prior to the Revolution. The aim was to find a way to collide with, and almost pick a fight with British soldiers.

Regarding the drawing and use of a sword, it became customary for a bodyguard or servent to travel on the right side of the leader, master, lord, etc, in order to not damage said august personage whilst drawing the sword to defend his life, honor or possesions.

It sounds like the variation told by the tour guide was a bit of creative embellishment most likely to liven up the tour.

Now, who knows where the 21 gun salute comes from? :D

Wheeler

Cromlech
June 21, 2006, 06:46 AM
Wheeler It is my understanding that the traffic on London Bridge became so bad, what with the hawkers and vendors, that a law, (not sure if it was a city thing or a royal edict) was passed having all traffic move to the left of the road. Over time, it passed on to the road system.

It is also believed to have have started in the Roman times (Evidence found in Swindon U.K), and almost every country in Europe drove (Carts and horses) on the left hand side of the road until the 1800's. Then Napoleon changed it to the right hand side, probably because he was left-handed. Check the link that I posted earlier for confirmation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_hand_drive

alellis
June 21, 2006, 06:46 AM
I was told that most of the world marched on the left untill napoleon gave the order that his army and any under his command would march on the right.

So that no matter where he went he would meet the British head on.

Also I seem to recall a european country changing sides some time in the sixties.

I can't be too sure of the year but I was a kid at school and remember watching it on the news they showed all the road signs being put up on the other side of the road and covered until a certain night at midnite. Then everyone had to change over to driving on the other side and going round roundabouts the other way.

They reported that there were hardly any accidents at least not nearly as many as were anticipated.

Anyone got more info.


al

Boom-stick
June 21, 2006, 06:59 AM
I've driven on both sides and dispite learning to drive on the left I actually find it easier to drive on the right (more natural) but what really got me was Egypt, I've just come back from there and although the cars are left hand drive everyone drive in the middle of the road and everyone flashes their lights and blasts horns at on coming traffic expecting the others to move other, it was great!!

I also love the fact that being under British Rule hasn't just messed up our country, it's managed to mess up countries the whole world over.:)

Tory
June 21, 2006, 08:31 AM
I can't be too sure of the year but I was a kid at school and remember watching it on the news they showed all the road signs being put up on the other side of the road and covered until a certain night at midnite. Then everyone had to change over to driving on the other side and going round roundabouts the other way.

Aren't you thinking of the conversion from miles to the metric system? :scrutiny:

MedGrl
June 21, 2006, 08:38 AM
first of all...Europeans don't drive on the wrong side of the rode. They drive on the other side of the road. ;) and did you know that saluting comes from the same tradition? It used to be that traveling knights would raise their visors as they aproched other travelers (spasificaly other knights) to show that the person in the helmet matched the cres (or code of arms) that they were carrying so that the other traveler knew that the knight was a friend. and they used the right hand for the same reason that they rode on the left...most people were and still are right handed so it showed an empty hand.

i like the come back as well. let your sister know her sense of humor is apriciated here on THR.:cool:

unspellable
June 21, 2006, 08:47 AM
I believe it was Sweden that made the change over in the sixties or seventies.

EOD Guy
June 21, 2006, 09:19 AM
You also have to be careful walking in countries that drive on the left. I was in Tokyo, looked to my left and almost stepped off the curb right in front of a taxi. Fortunately, the driver saw me and thought: "That dumb American is going to step in front of me." and slowed down. I don't think he was as concerned about my welfare as he was about damaging his cab and getting blood all over it.:uhoh:

silliman89
June 21, 2006, 09:51 AM
Now, look at the re-enactment of a Joust. They pass on the RIGHT SIDE of the fence! It makes no sense at all!

Let's say you're a knight. Suddenly out in front of you is another knight charging towards you with lance leveled. In your right hand you have your lance. In your left hand you have your big heavy shield. What do you do?

You just naturally want to keep your shield between your soft tender body, and your opponent's sharp pointy lance. So you pass to the right, even if it is slightly harder to aim your lance across your horse's neck off to the left.

After all, if you miss him but block his lance with your shield, you can turn around and try again or run for the hills. If you passed on the left, even if you both hit each other with your lances, you're still a looser.

Knights with lances keep to the right, because the lance can be used on either side and the shield can only be used on the left. Knights with swords keep to the left, because the sword is too short to fight across your horse.

I always heard that in England the government thought the lance was too dangerous to be used by just anyone, and restricted its use to the King's Lancers. The same way that today they only allow the military to have guns. (See how I brought this back to being gun related. :D ) With nothing but swords to defend themselves, the British stayed left on roads just like the ancient Romans.

Over on the continent, they had weaker central governments that couldn't get away with the kind of tyranny they had in England. So they carried whatever weapons they wanted, which was the lance, and passed on the right.

We may think of France and Spain as being strong governments, but that was only fairly recently. England has been under central rule since William the Conqueror in 1066, and has never been invaded since. France was divided until the mid 1400's, and the British held onto Calais until 1558. Spain wasn't unified until 1492. So for over 400 years, England had the only strong central government in Western Europe.

deadin
June 21, 2006, 10:04 AM
Cromlech,
Having driven in your fine country, I will admit that driving on the left isn't too bad. (Once you get used to not heading for the right side coming out of a corner.:D ) As for the "left-handed" shifting, I just rented an automatic.
However, traffic circles threw me for awhile. They actually make sense and are starting to show up in the U.S. The one I was warned away from was the two-way circle near Heathrow. I was told it wasn't for the faint-hearted. (I can't even imagine how it would work.)

Dean

Cromlech
June 21, 2006, 06:57 PM
deadin wrote: However, traffic circles threw me for awhile. They actually make sense and are starting to show up in the U.S. The one I was warned away from was the two-way circle near Heathrow. I was told it wasn't for the faint-hearted. (I can't even imagine how it would work.)


What in blue buggery is a traffic circle? Are you referring to 'roundabouts'?

Come to think of it, 'roundabout' is quite a silly name for them. Ah well.

If you think you want to avoid Heathrow, then you really want to avoid the 'magic roundabout' in Swindon. That thing will knock you for six!

MachIVshooter
June 21, 2006, 09:53 PM
Come to think of it, 'roundabout' is quite a silly name for them.

I agree. "Worst idea in the history of direction changing systems" is a much more fitting description. The damn things are chaotic at best, especially here in the US where people have been used to signal lights or octagon signs since the beginning of automobiles. And trying to get into a busy roundabout can be all but impossible. Perhaps this is because the ones here are only one or two lanes, but I still think they're a terrible idea-regardless of size.

For a roundabout to work, the entire road system must be designed around them with traffic flow in mind. If everyone is coming in on one road but then splitting off in three different directions in fairly even numbers, roundabouts are OK. But you can't just insert them here and there in an established system of hi-ways, avenues and side roads like they have tried here. In the US, they like to plunk 'em in the middle of a busy street with a couple side roads that have minimal traffic. So all it does is impede the flow of the main road and create a dangerous situation for people coming on from the low volume roads, as the folks on the main drag are not used to yeilding and tend to not notice cars coming in from the less traveled inlets.

evan price
June 22, 2006, 12:21 AM
As far as haul trucks go the usual way of doing it in a mine, is the trucks drive with the driver on the side AWAY from the center of the road, so since a crash head on will usually be an offset one, the drivers will stand a higher chance of not being crushed to death.

TallPine
June 22, 2006, 02:38 PM
As far as haul trucks go the usual way of doing it in a mine, is the trucks drive with the driver on the side AWAY from the center of the road
Yeah, that's what I was trying to say earlier but I don't think I said it very clearly.

The guy that was telling me about it said that you just had to take it on faith that if you were following the (left) edge of the road, and the other driver in the oncoming truck was doing the same, that the two trucks would miss each other in the middle.

Another thing... if you ever come to Montana where the roads are mostly pretty narrow, keep in mind that most truckers and local drivers do not get over until nearly the last moment - because it is safer to swing out and back to miss the oncoming vehicle than it is to drive for a 1/4 mile on the edge of the road. It freaks some people out ;)

Not gun related anymore ... sorry :( How about driving on the left side of the road to shoot a deer out the window of your pickup? :p (just kidding)

Jim Watson
June 22, 2006, 02:52 PM
As I recall, Japan is right hand drive - left side of the road because their first motorcars were imported from England.

Unspellable is right, Sweden changed sides of the road in 1964. They put in months of advance work and at midnight one night the crews went out and took the bags off the right side road signs and put them on the left side signs. The speed limit was reduced to about 45 to minimize the damage in wrecks. Preparation and education were so thorough that traffic accidents for six months after the change were fewer than for six months before the change.

I had a friend returned in bandages from a headon collision in a Scotland holiday. I figured he had a momentary lapse, but not so, he was hit by a drunk driving on the wrong side of the road.

Havegunjoe
June 22, 2006, 04:51 PM
That would make us the wrong side as the Britts had it first. I heard that we switched sides because two horse drawn vehicles passing on the left, with drivers seated on the right, caused the drivers to occasionaly whip one-another while whipping their horses. We switched to passing on the right to avoid this. May or may not be true but it does make sense.

dfaugh
June 23, 2006, 09:17 AM
You also have to be careful walking in countries that drive on the left. I was in Tokyo, looked to my left and almost stepped off the curb right in front of a taxi.

Yup..Been there, done that(In London). I was sent to England on work assignment about 10 yrs. Being a cocky American, with 25 years of driving experience (and having owned several British cars) and racing I thought to myself "How hard could it be to learn to drive the other way?) Answer: REALLY, REALLY hard. All of your "instincts" (really habits) regarding where to look for traffic are reversed. The first few days I had any number of close calls when driving. The first weekend a co-worker and I took the "tube" into London (we were staying/working about 10 miles away) and walked around, which is where I almost stepped in front of the taxi.

However the second weekend another co-worker and I decide to go sight-seeing, driving "cross-country" to Bath, then to Stonehenge, then back "home". With me driving. I nominated that co-worker for "bravest man on earth" after our little jaunt. Every time I came to a roundabout I would look the "wrong" way, for oncoming cars. Luckily my "navigator" caught me most times. So in the 3 weeks I was there I managed to NOT kill any Britons, myself or my co-workers. But it was a near thing!

However, the worst riding experiences I ever had were in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is the secong largest city on the planet. I quickly decided (or was discouraged, I forget which) from renting a car, and soon found out why.
First, navigation is all but impossible, as there's no rhyme or reason to the layout, that I could see. Plus, each afternoon there'd be a thunderstorm, which would flood some streets, and the taxi driver would have to find an alternate route. Traffic was always bad, but then it wold be horrific(sometimes a 2 hour trip between work and hotel). And basically, there are no rules. Red lights, stop signs---these are merely suggestions! Red light means you might possibly want to think about slowing down, apparently Told my boss back home that I fully expected to die in a cab in Brazil. Once I found a cab driver that wasn't a complete lunatic behind the wheel, I made sure he picked us up/for all trips to and from worksite. But I loved Brazil, cool place.

Anyway, way OT, but fun to swap stories, etc.

zeke1312
June 23, 2006, 09:25 AM
Actually, driving on the right or was it the left, allows one to play polo!:)

Kharn
June 23, 2006, 09:34 AM
I've also heard that we sit on the left (and thus drive on the right) so that when a man runs a wagon or carriage with more than two beasts of burden, he will be properly positioned to snap the whip down the center of the team with his favored (right) arm.

And then the guy holding the shotgun sits on the right. Hopefully not pointing it at the driver. :what:

Kharn

akodo
June 24, 2006, 09:45 PM
first off, jousting. There were two different styles of jousting, english and french, the main difference being if they rode shield to shield or lance to lance.


now, here's what I find interesting, from teh wiki sight

When driving a car, a right-handed driver can operate the gear shift and other dashboard controls requiring fine motor skills with their right hand, while using their left to operate the steering wheel, which requires larger, less fine, movements. Race cars, even in countries that drive on the left, are usually configured with the gear shift on the right.

Check out the part I bolded. That tells me, when real money is on the line and every second counts, they choose the 'drive on right' method.

secondly

With a right-hand-drive car, given that most people are right-handed, the less coordinated hand is used for changing gear and operating dashboard controls, leaving the more coordinated right hand free to steer. Driving on the left avoids the difficult combination of steering with the left hand and changing gear with the right hand and at the same time viewing the oncoming traffic with the left eye.

they try to restate this, switching which task deserves the 'main' hand, but have no anecdotal evidence like the race car example to back it up. Further, they talk about looking with just the left eye. Unless you are a chameleon, your eyes work in tandem. Futhermore, us shooters know about right eye dominance and left eye dominance, but very few other people do, because it matters in so few circumstances. If it mattered in driving, more people would know it.

Tory
June 25, 2006, 07:38 PM
When driving a car, a right-handed driver can operate the gear shift and other dashboard controls requiring fine motor skills with their right hand, while using their left to operate the steering wheel, which requires larger, less fine, movements. Race cars, even in countries that drive on the left, are usually configured with the gear shift on the right.

Check out the part I bolded. That tells me, when real money is on the line and every second counts, they choose the 'drive on right' method.

Note also that ROAD courses, which require constant shifting, run CLOCKWISE, putting the car on the RH side for most corners. In short, "drive on the right/pass on the left." It is the NASCAR and Indy circuits, in which there is virtually NO shifting, which run counter-clockwise.

FedGunner
June 25, 2006, 10:08 PM
Pistols were considered requisite items for the Highland soldier as early as the 1730s. By the 1740s the elegant pistol styles of Christie & Murdoch (armourers of Doune, Stirlingshire) had became the most sought after amongst Highland officers. The unique elements of the Doune pistols were the scroll or rams horn butt, fluted barrels at the breech and the octagonal flared muzzles. Soon pistol makers all across Scotland (and in England) began to copy the styles of Doune.

The replica offered here represents one of the many copies made at that time. One surviving original, same style as the replica, is marked "RHR" on the barrel, standing for the Royal Highland Regiment (becoming the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment "Black Watch"). Many of the pistols carried by the men of the 42nd during the French and Indian War were actually made in Birmingham by Isaac Bissell. The steel pistol was used in the ranks of Highland Regiments into the 1780s, when a less expensive (and less elegant) bronze pistol began to challenge the dominance of the steel version in the ranks of Britain's Highland Regiments. By the mid-1790s Highland Regiments had abondoned their pistols.

Highland sergeants and men wore one steel pistol under the left arm, hung through the pistol's belt hook on a thin buff leather belt.

http://www.militaryheritage.com/images/scot_pistol1.jpg

Tory
June 25, 2006, 10:44 PM
how is it relevant to why we drive on which side of the road? :confused:

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