posted on May, 21 2022 @ 08:35 AM
Why is most of the world driving on the right-hand side of the road, with only a few exceptions?
The history of the issue is obscure, because people were taking one side or the other by natural tendency, without talking about it, and the choice
only became a legal requirement in comparatively recent times.
But the initiative in making “right-hand drive” a normal requirement seems to have come from two revolutionary regimes. America first. Then
Napoleonic France either independently or by imitation, which was enough to influence the rest of Europe and then the rest of the world.
I find that suggestive. It implies that “right-hand drive” was a deliberate change, which concurs with the theory that right-handed men previously
tended to keep their weapon-holding or rein-holding hand closer to the people they were encountering.
And it implies that British left-side driving is a simple consequence of never having had a revolution. The case of Japan seems to support that
theory. I see no reason why modern Japan should have been more influenced by Britain than by America. So until corrected by someone with more
knowledge of Japanese history, I will assume that the Japanese drive on the left because they never had a revolution either.
Why would revolutionary regimes want to make this change, if that’s what they did? I once saw a rather silly argument, that Napoleon was trying to
confuse the spies watching his armies into mistaking the direction of his movements. That theory does not work, because the spies of the time were not
using aerial stills photography. They would see the army moving “live” and note the direction of travel at the same time. If they watched a
battalion leaving their city by the north gate, they could not be confused by lane-switching into thinking that the battalion had been coming in.
There must be some other explanation.
In Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus, the aristocrats have a way of describing society which has a bearing on this issue.
On the one hand, Coriolanus himself complains in battle about not getting enough support from “the common file”.
On the other hand, one of his elite friends, complaining about the city demagogues, refers to his own party as “us of the right-hand file”. Which
implies, of course, that the ordinary people are “the left-hand file”.
These expressions are obviously a military metaphor, and they have the effect of showing us how the armies of the time were moved around the country.
That is, the mass of the army were trudging along on the left side of the road, leaving the other side clear for their well-born leaders to ride up
and down the line, passing on messages between commanders, or simply supervising what was happening. No need to leave room for oncoming traffic,
because oncoming traffic gets out of the way or gets shot.
Common soldiers travelling on the LEFT.
Officers travelling on the RIGHT.
Once we appreciate that image, it should be easy to understand why revolutionary regimes would want to reverse the system, to show that they were no
longer servants “We are the masters now. We the people are the new officers. Dammit, from now on WE are going to be the ones taking the officers’
side of the road. “
Hence the three greatly valued and sacred symbols of American democratic liberty.
1 The right to bear arms.
2 The right to pay huge amounts of money for medical treatment instead of getting it for nothing,
3 The right to drive cars on the right-hand side.