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Sunday, 27 December 2015

Left-hand traffic

The reason the British drive on the left hand side dates from the Roman occupation. This was because in the early days of horse travel on lonely tracks, it made sense to ride close to the left of the track so that the traveler could have his sword in his right hand to ward off any attacker.

Pope Boniface VIII who was Pope between 1294 - 1303, decreed that pilgrims traveling to Rome keep to the left. This rule allowed travelers to reach their swords easily if they passed suspicious characters.

The earliest known official "keep left" regulation was issued in 1756 for vehicles crossing London Bridge.

In 1772 Scotland became the first country to make left-hand travel a national law, applying to all city traffic. (Offenders were fined 20 shillings, a substantial amount then.)

England and Wales followed suit in 1835 make left-hand travel a national law, applying to all city traffic.

The Australians have driven the left since the first road was built in the British colony of New South Wales in the early 19th century.

Sweden changed its traffic directionality from the left-hand side of the road to the right on September 3, 1967. The day was called Dagen H, the "H" standing for "Högertrafik", the Swedish word for "right traffic".

Kungsgatan, Stockholm, on Dagen H

Today, about 65% of the world's population live in countries with right-hand traffic and 35% in countries with left-hand traffic.

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