Useful Tips

How to adapt to right-hand traffic

Why do some people drive on the right side of the road and consider this method to be the only true one, while others, on the contrary, will convince you with foam at the mouth of the advantages of going left? How is it that humanity, already divided by religious, racial and economic characteristics, has forever shared, probably, “left-sided” and “right-sided”? And what do you need to remember for those who travel from “right-hand drive” to “left-hand drive” and vice versa in order to protect themselves as much as possible?


There are many theories explaining why people in specific cases chose to move the left or right side of the road. It is believed, for example, that in England left-hand traffic has remained since those times when the main vehicle was horse-drawn carts, where the coachman was sitting upstairs. This same coachman, if he was a right-hander, chasing a horse with a whip, could accidentally hit pedestrians with him. Therefore, horse-drawn carriages sought to go on the left. However, true or not, we are unlikely to find out now.

England, having legally consolidated the left-hand movement, gave it “by inheritance” to almost all of its colonies. Therefore, in small Cyprus and Malta, and in large India and Australia, they travel on the left. There are also a number of countries that have never been in colonial dependence on England, but have nevertheless chosen left-hand traffic.

This is, for example, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia. Why, it’s not always clear. In Japan, for example, there is a legend that the samurai moved on the left side of the road so as not to touch each other with swords hanging from the left. In general, it is estimated that about one third of the world's population travel on the left.


There have also been cases in history when a particular state, for various reasons, changed the way of movement. The most significant project in the recent history of the transition from left-hand to right-hand traffic was carried out in September 1967 in Sweden. This required all the Nordic willpower and Scandinavian endurance. It is scary to imagine what could have come out of such a project in Cyprus.

A 30-page information booklet was issued, a special logo was developed and widely circulated (up to drawings on women's underwear). They handed out two-tone driver's gloves: left red, right green. The song “Hold Right, Svensson” was broadcast on the radio. In the first two days, not a single fatal accident was registered - according to The Time newspaper, “it cost with rumpled wings and hurt conceit.”


Accustomed to right-hand traffic at home, our fellow citizens in Cyprus at first faced difficulties, but the British feel like a fish in water. Problems arise not only for drivers, but also for pedestrians who are accustomed to crossing the road at home looking first left and then right.

Besides jokes, it can really be expensive. The cult Japanese writer Haruki Murakami even had such a character - a Japanese man who ended up in another country and was hit by a car there while trying to cross the road. A man fell victim to forgetfulness - in his native Japan, too, drive on the left side.

So, for heaven’s sake, be on your guard when crossing the road. If you can’t immediately figure out where to look, turn your head in all directions, it will be more reliable. And one more thing: if you are going somewhere on foot, be sure to go “towards” the movement, that is, on the right side of the road.

In general, the rule that we must meet moving vehicles universally and applies everywhere, but in Cyprus it is of particular importance, given the disrespect of local drivers to pedestrians and the almost complete absence of sidewalks.


What should remember those who just got behind the "right wheel"? Try to follow the simple rules listed below:

1. Before driving, observe the movement for a while: this will make it easier for you to feel the idea of ​​the “left side”.

2. Before starting, look to the right.

3. When driving, pay attention to other participants in the movement, so it will be easier for you to navigate.

4. The right row is “fast”. Overtake only on the right.

5. Use extreme caution when cornering, especially when turning right. Often, at the end of the maneuver, “right-hand” drivers out of habit find themselves in the oncoming lane and drive along it, as if nothing had happened.

6. Be sure to pay attention to traffic signs and markings. A wide white line, drawn across the road before leaving the intersection, means that you must give way (most often such a line is accompanied by the “Stop” sign, but it may not be!).

7. Be careful in roundabouts (so-called “roundabouts”). In Russia, this way of organizing traffic is not particularly popular, traffic lights are more often used. On roundabouts, cars move clockwise, unlike countries with right-hand traffic, where they travel counterclockwise. Roundabout machines have an advantage, i.e. you can enter the ring only by making sure that you do not bother anyone.

8. In Cyprus, there are rare cases where at the intersection there are no indications about which of the roads is the main one. But what if there is no clue or a traffic light breaks at the intersection? In “right-handed” countries, there is a “interference on the right” rule, that is, one who has motor vehicles approaching from the right should give way to him. So, in Cyprus the same rule applies, that is, the one who follows on the right side has an advantage, and not vice versa, as one might suppose.

9. Be careful when driving after a break or immediately after driving on the right side - at such times you are most prone to errors.


Practice shows that “perestroika” from one side to the other is fast enough, and having acquired a solid driving experience in Cyprus, many of our fellow citizens come to the conclusion that left-hand traffic is much easier.

Convinced apologists of left-hand traffic claim that this is a more natural and safe way to drive, since the right eye in a person is more developed, and it is easier for the driver to control oncoming traffic from the right side with the right eye. In general, whatever one may say, everything has its advantages.

On the picture inscription on the sign "Attention! Left-hand traffic!"

Left-hand traffic: how to get used to, driving features: 3 comments

Very cool written about left-hand traffic, completely in solidarity! All the same mistakes had to be learned from personal experience.

I have to change the country with different movements 2-3 times a year. The fact that oncoming cars and the cornering switch are located on the side of the window clogged my subconscious. Now it’s easier to rebuild. I hope someone can help with advice

Hello, Lyudmila! An association is considered one of the best ways to remember. Thanks for the personal experience that will help travelers get used to changing the movement from right-hand to left-hand and vice versa faster.

Historical background of the division of the right and left-hand traffic

As you know, right-handed people in our world are the predominant number - about 80–90% of the total population of the Earth. Only one in seven people is left-handed, and ambidexters - people who are equally good at both the left and the right hand - are even smaller. So the whole world has long been subordinate to right-handed people, which means that the rules were established by them. This also concerned the movement on roads by any animal or transport.

Before the emergence of more or less reliable and convenient carts, a person was forced to move between villages for his two. And, of course, he did not go empty-handed, but with a bag or bale on his right shoulder — that was more convenient. In addition, on their right, closer to the side of the road, the peasants are accustomed to carrying a pack animal dear to their heart and wallet. The right side in the course of their movement was followed by medieval knights, but only in tournaments. This rule was due to the features of holding the shield and sword. In all other cases, the riders rode closer to the left side of the road.

Armed riders always dragged the sword on the right side of the bow of the saddle. Noticing the danger, the sword was quickly pulled out and repelled the attack. In addition, they climbed into the saddle on the horse on the left, inserting the left leg into the stirrup. Otherwise, the rider would be in the saddle backwards. So the cavalrymen moved along the left side of the wide road. The coachmen also drove the crew. However, not all.

For a long time, the sledges were driven by postal workers sitting on one of the harnessed horses. As a rule, it was a left horse, located closer to the wagon itself. In this position, the coachman felt better about the dimensions of his vehicle and could more efficiently control the horses with his right hand. And this arrangement of the coachman was more convenient for his landing and disembarkation from a horse's back. But the coachman controlled multi-seat crews, for example, open landos, sitting on the right in a special place in the front. Only in this way the driver did not touch the passenger with his whip. The ancient Romans adhered to the left side.

How did the implementation of different sides of the movement

Today, researchers have no confirmed data on which side they traveled in ancient states, where there was a developed road system. But there is indisputable evidence that the ancient Romans observed left-hand traffic. During excavations in the British county of Wiltshire, an ancient Roman quarry and road were excavated.

The left side of this road (viewed from the exit) was more broken than the right. It appeared that the laden carts left this quarry precisely on the left edge. The horse detachments of the warriors, marching, also stood on the left side. This fact is proved by the found Roman coin, on the obverse of which a pair of equestrian, diverging on the left hand is depicted. But in France, only the aristocrats had the right to use the left side of the carriageway, and then not for long.

In France, until 1789, commoners moved exclusively on the right side of the road. Noble gentlemen, on the other hand, rode in their carriages. And after the revolution, the aristocrats, in order to disguise themselves, also began to adhere to the right side. Later, this disguise has become a tradition. And after the conquest of many territories by Napoleon, right-hand traffic also began to be introduced there. This happened in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Holland and Poland. Opponent countries of Napoleon, in spite of the French emperor, introduced the opposite movement - on the left side of the tracks.

London traffic in the 19th century

The first traffic rules and penalties for non-compliance

In 1756, a special left-hand drive bill was introduced in Britain. For his non-compliance, especially on bridges, a large fine was imposed. The left side was also held in the numerous colonial possessions of Great Britain - on the colonial islands, as well as in Australia, Pakistan and India. The bill, as well as fines on it, were valid in all territories. Fines for non-compliance with the rules were also assumed in pre-revolutionary Russia.

To answer the question why the right-hand movement in Russia, it is worth returning to the past for three centuries. Although on the right side in our country they moved back in the time of Peter I, the Empress Elizabeth officially approved it. She in 1752 signed a decree on right-hand traffic for horse-drawn carriages. Around the same period, the first rules for driving on roads in our country appeared. The right side while driving a car in Russia is adhered to today. But in a number of some states, the rules by which traffic occurred on one side or another have changed.

Road sign in Australia reminding that there is left-hand traffic

Which countries have made the transition to right-hand traffic

In the eighteenth century, the pressure exerted by France on many other states remained very great. Being under it, even the allied countries of Great Britain still refused to move on the left side and changed the rules. Changed the left to the right side of the road and US residents. This happened only after the final liberation from power of the British crown. And one of the last states in Europe, where they began to travel on the right side, was Sweden.

The third of September 1967 was “N” Day in Sweden. The program to change the direction of movement was not introduced from the floundering bay, it was preceded by serious preparation. The transition was reported in newspapers, magazines and news. The Swedes even carried out an advertising campaign by printing the logo of Day “N” on women's panties and bras. The transition day itself did without serious accidents. At 4:50 in the morning, all Swedish drivers stopped and changed lanes, and after ten minutes, the traffic on the roads of Sweden finally became right-hand.

Traffic on the right side of the tracks came in some African states, for example, in Ghana, Nigeria and the Gambia due to proximity to countries where the right-hand traffic was operating. And in 1946, having rid itself of Japan’s occupation, Korea also "stood on the right side." However, the right-wing countries also changed the direction of movement on their roads.

In Mozambique, adjacent to the former British colonies, a relatively recent transition has been made from the right to left-hand traffic. And the small island state of Samoa spread “left” due to the abundance of right-hand drive cars on the island. It happened in 2009. In some regions of Russia, which refers to countries with right-hand traffic, you can also find many cars with right-hand drive.

In Khabarovsk, in Kamchatka and in Magadan, left-hand drive cars are very rare, more and more with right-hand drive. However, local drivers quickly adapted and easily drive on the right side. By the way, for almost a year left-hand traffic was operating on two streets of Vladivostok. But the experiment was considered unsuccessful and closed. There are in our country, in St. Petersburg and Moscow, left-hand driveways made for the convenience of drivers.