If you’re from the US and have seen a British car with the steering wheel on the right side, either in a movie or in real life, this might seem strange. Why aren’t all American cars the same, and why do they drive on the left instead of the right?
In the U.S., most cars are left-hand drive. This is because the driver can see oncoming cars better and avoid accidents, and passengers can get out of the car on the side of the street where it is safer.
Want to know why this made a big difference for American cars? Well, keep reading to find out why cars are still driven from the left side.
What is a Left-Hand Drive Vehicle?
The term “left-hand drive” means that the steering unit is on the left side of the car. In the United States, we have cars that are “left-hand drive,” which means that the steering wheel is on the left side of the car instead of the right.
Right-hand drive cars are still used in other countries, mostly the UK and Japan. In these cars, the steering wheel is on the left side of the car. This is still the way people drive in many countries because that’s how they’ve been doing it for years.
America didn’t try a new way of driving until 1908, when Henry Ford made the Model T. This new way of driving made the road safer for both drivers and passengers.
The name of these cars comes from the fact that the driver steers with their left hand while they use their right hand to change gears.
Why Are American Cars Left Hand Drive?
It wasn’t until Henry Ford looked into why cars with right-hand drive aren’t as safe as cars with left-hand drive that Americans decided to make their cars this way.
Ford looked at the car and thought of ways to make it safer. For example, the passenger in a right-hand car had to get out and walk around the car. He wanted to fix this so that the passenger would be safer, so he made the left-hand drive.
After Ford made and showed off the Model T, cars were always made this way after that. This is still how cars are made in the United States.
Another reason could be that left-handed people are less common, and a car that lets you use your right hand to change gears is more convenient for right-handed people.
When Did American Cars Switch to Left Hand Drive?
This first change started in 1908, when the Model T Ford was released.
Many people liked the change that was made to this car, so other car companies started making cars that could be driven from the left side as well.
Before 1908, American cars were made in the same way as British cars and drove on the right.
But this is still popular in many places around the world. Also, some countries copied the American design and started making cars that drive on the left side of the road.
Is it Legal to Drive a Right Hand Car in the US?
Technically, it is against the law in the US to drive a new car that is right-hand drive because it could be dangerous. Older cars, like those from the early 1900s, are technically legal to drive, but they are hard to find and don’t cause a big problem.
It is also against the law to bring in new cars that drive on the right side of the road. This is so that people don’t bring them into the country thinking they won’t drive them on the road, even though they do plan to do so.
But it is legal to drive right-hand-drive British cars in the US. But because American streets are made for left-hand drive cars, it is not recommended because making a mistake is more likely to cause an accident.
There is an exception for postal carrier vehicles, which still have right-hand drive so they are easier to drive and get out of while delivering mail all day. This is a common way for mail carriers to save time, and it is still done today.
This is one of the few exceptions that stand out, since this kind of car is used for work and not for fun on the road.
What Are Some Other Left-Hand Drive Countries?
There are a lot of other places besides America that drive on the left side of the road.
Many of these parts of the world were once ruled by the British, and it is thought that making and driving cars in this new way was a way to separate themselves from the British.
South Africa, Australia, India, and the Caribbean are some of these places. But Japan has also changed its cars so that they can be driven from the left side.
Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand all drive on the left side of the road, as do many other islands and territories around the world.
Is it Different To Drive a Right Hand Drive Car?
Even though the steering wheel is on the other side of the car, it still does the same basic things. You’ll use your left hand to change gears, though.
This could be a little confusing at first, especially for people who are right-handed and don’t usually do anything with their left hand. But it’s pretty easy to get used to with a little practise.
This is against the law in the US because it could be dangerous if someone couldn’t react quickly enough to avoid an accident.
If someone isn’t used to using their left hand and isn’t used to driving a right-hand drive car, they are more likely to switch to the wrong gear.
Why Can’t Left-Handed People Drive Right-Hand Drive Vehicles?
This is a good question that might seem like something lawmakers should look into, since it could make driving easier for those people. But this isn’t allowed because the streets aren’t set up for right-hand drive cars, and it would make it more likely that a bad accident would happen.
Because the streets are set up so that drivers of cars with left-hand drive can see where cars coming from the other direction, it would be harder for a driver of a car with right-hand drive to do the same.
This could make it harder to guess what another driver will do, which could make it more likely that there will be a crash. It would also force the passenger to get out in the middle of traffic, which is a lot riskier than getting out on the side of the street.
Also, people who are left-handed are often already used to driving this way because they learn to drive in a left-drive car. If they were given a car that drives on the right, they might have just as hard of a time getting used to it as someone who drives with their right hand.
So, it’s best for everyone on the road to keep driving the same kind of car so that everyone stays safe.
Why Do Other Countries Still Drive Right Drive Cars?
Even though it might seem like a good idea for all countries to drive the same kind of cars, which would make driving in other countries much easier, not all places have roads that would make it possible.
Other countries don’t have turn lanes for left-drive cars like the United States does. This means that their roads would have to be changed to make room for these cars. It would also mean that they could no longer make or drive cars with the steering wheel on the right.
They would have to spend a lot of money to make these changes, which wouldn’t be worth it given how little difference it would make. Also, since people are used to driving cars that go to the right, they would have to learn how to drive cars that go to the left.
There is too much to change, and keeping things the same is just easier.
Now that you know what a left-drive car is, you also know that all American cars are left-drive cars. This makes our roads safer and keeps us better able to tell how much space there is between cars.
Even though this means you couldn’t bring in a right-drive car and drive it, this is how you were taught to drive and how you are used to driving. It would be hard to learn how to drive this kind of car all over again.
Now that you know all of this, you know a lot more about left-drive vehicles, why they were made, and how important they were to the history of the United States.