Why Do M'sians Drive On The Left Side Of The Road While Most Countries Drive On The Right?

The reason dates way back in time.

Cover image via Yusof Mat Isa/Malay Mail & Zigwheels

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If 65% of the world drive on the right side of the road, why do some countries – like Malaysia – drive on the left?

You might think, "because Malaysia was under the British rule, so we adopted their customs". And... you're not wrong.

But why do the British drive on the left in the first place, when most of the world, like the US, China, and a majority of the countries in Europe, drive on the opposite side?

The reason apparently dates back to ancient Rome

Long before cars and paved roads existed, people got around on horseback.

And since most of them were right-handed, riding on the left allowed their dominant or right hands to be free if they needed to draw a sword against enemy attacks.

Moreover, a right-handed person would find it easier to mount a horse from the left side; a move that would otherwise be difficult, as the sword was worn on the left.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Horse and Hound

By the 1700s and 1800s, horse-drawn wagons and chariots became more popular in Britain and the US

Since there were no proper seats, riders would often sit on the left, using their right arms to more easily control the horses.

In time, traffic naturally shifted to the right to allow riders to sit closer to the centre of the road and avoid collisions with each other.

Henry Ford, who mass produced the Model T car, made automobiles with a left-sided steering wheel, which also influenced right-side driving.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Horsey Hooves

However, in 1773, Britain made left-side driving the law, while France preferred the opposite.

According to Business Insider, French military commander, Napolean, was left-handed and riding on the right was an intimidating military tactic.

Despite many countries slowly switching to the right, Britain's law remained, influencing the British colonies at the time

That's why several countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia still drive on the left to this day.

Meanwhile, many other countries have switched to the right side to follow their neighbours.

The map below indicates which side of the road various countries currently drive on — the ones in green drive on the right, while the ones in orange drive on the left.

Image via World Standards

Have you driven on the right side of the road in another country? Which do you prefer? Let us know.

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