Which countries drive on the left?

August 31, 2009 6 comments

The United Kingdom is well known for driving on the left side (or the ‘wrong’ side, depending on who you ask) of the road.

But the eccentric island is not alone. A surprising number of countries drive on the left. Many are former British colonies, but other countries including Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Guyana and Suriname also drive on the left.

The countries coloured in blue in the map below are all countries which drive on the left.


Map source: Wikipedia

The list of countries which drive on the left has been decreasing steadily. Sweden switched to right-hand driving in 1967, followed by Iceland in 1968 and Burma in 1970.

However Samoa is going against the trend. In this article, Salon explains that the government of Samoa wants to switch from right-side to left-side driving in order to import cheaper right-hand drive cars from Australia and New Zealand.

Changing driving directions is expensive and unpopular – think a whole country waking up to find its steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car. But it seems the savings from avoiding expensive US car imports will justify the inconvenience.

Do you think more countries should drive on the right?

Read more:
Iconic Italian transport – Vespa, Cinquecento and a few buses as well.
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Catching a plane in Iraq – a traveller’s story

About the author

Lucy (Liz) Chatburn
Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.
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6 Comments

  • No I don’t think more countys should switch and drive on the right, the Brits are going to stay on the left, its the country’s that drive on the right that are wrong and we are not eccentric.

  • Sadarsa

    Right Seth, something like 85% of the world drives on the right side of the road… yet we are the eccentric ones?

    Kinda limits you on what vehicle to buy does it not? I don’t think american car factories produce cars with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car.

  • AMol84

    The French pioneered driving on the right, the US copied because they wanted to shed ties to colonial England. Make of that what you will. This may also be the reason why the Americans spell several words incorrectly, but that’s just conjecture.

    Also for the record all cars are available in left hand drives including Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Bentley’s. I’m sure other established quality brands like Chevrolet also pander to the Great British need for left hand drives although again this is just conjecture.

  • Beren

    Historically, I would have always assumed that riding or driving your carriage on the left would make more sense. It would have allowed you to use your dominant right-hand to interact with oncoming traffic wether it be by sword, handshake or whatever. The article fails to mention that Italy was a mix of left and right hand drive until a Mr Mussolini came to power in the 1920s. Fascism, the French (and their colonies) and American cars – all good reasons for Britain and most of the commonwealth to drive on the left.

  • Wasn’t it the Brits dear friend, Mr N. Bonaparte, who, out of sheer bloody-mindedness, decreed that traffic should drive on the right, just to spite Pefidious Albion?

  • Randy

    Being in the USA, I don’t find a problem with right hand drive. I also can’t imagine any country switching from left to right, if that’s what they’ve been used to. I have often wondered what it might be like to drive on the left, and the only thing I can say is if it’s a standard shift I might have problems trying to do that left handed. Other than that, I don’t see any benefit one way or the other, realistically.