Darby's Destinations Luxury Travel - Italy

Reasoning Behind Which Side to Drive On

Driving on the left side of the road

July 22, 2017

In a previous blog, I shared the information about the Irish driving on the left side of the road as do other countries in Europe.  Mickey shared with us the history and reason why the Irish drive on the left side of the road.

It began in the Medieval times.  Back then there were no roads just cart tracks for the horses and buggies.  During this period, it was a very suspicious time; everyone was considered to be your enemy unless it was proven differently.  If you were making your way along the track by horse, walking or horse cart and you saw a stranger coming towards you, you would automatically move to the left side of the path.  Everyone in this time was right handed, so you moved to the left to defend yourself with your right hand or your sword hand.  Hence traveling by foot or horse on the left side of the road continued as motorized vehicles were introduced.

Napoleon and his army had great speed with which his soldiers made their way to battle zones, and he noticed his men would travel on the left because if they saw the enemy coming the other way,they could easily get down on their knees and start shooting with their right hand.  

There is evidence to support this reasoning when you shake hands with someone you shake with your right hand, your weapon hand.  You are proving you are coming in peace.  When you wave at someone in the distance with your right hand, you are showing that stranger in the distance you do not have your weapon in your hand.   If you visit a castle, you will notice the stairways go upwards in a counter clockwise direction.  The idea behind that is If you are defending the castle you have the advantage of fighting down the stairs in with your right hand, and the attackers had to fight up the stairs with their left hand.   Another note in Medieval times is that no one was left handed since that was believed to be a sign of evil in these times. If anyone showed that they were left handed, they would take the risk of being burned at the stake.

Driving on the right side of the road in America started back in the 1700's when people where hauling big farming supplies with a team of horses.  The driver would sit on the left side of the wagon to keep his right hand free to maintain the horses.  Since the driver wanted to watch the oncoming wagons to be sure they did not hit wagon wheels, the driver kept the wagon to the right and let other wagon's pass to the left.

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