04 Jun Driving on the Left is an Ancient Medieval Tradition
Driving on the Left
I wouldn’t recommend it, but for me, driving on the left side of the road makes more sense. I lived in London, England for about twenty years. Born in New York, and raised in California, I learned to drive at the age of 16. Which was not only common, it was mandatory. And like all Americans, I was taught to drive my car on the right side of the road. Like us all, I’ve been doing it for so long, it just makes sense and I can never possibly see doing it any other way.
But then I moved to England
The British drive their cars on the left side of the road. Alongside Japan and I think Sweden, they are the only modern country to still do so. But, is it more dangerous to do it that way, you may ask? Only if you’re the only one doing it! Actually, from my experience, it actually makes more sense to drive on the left side and there is an apocryphal historical reason why this is so.
If you remember your history, a big part of the lore of Medieval times is Jousting. A sport to the death where two opponents, facing one another on horseback, would charge one another, hoping to knock over or even pierce their worthy opponent coming the opposite way. According to what I had learned when I lived in England, was that the reason the Brits drive on the left side of the road is because of the tradition of jousting. When you think about it, most people are right-handed. And when you’re on a horse, holding a heavy jousting stick in your right hand, by design you are going to face your opponent coming at you from your right side. In other words, you’re driving your horse on the left so you can hold your life-saving weapon in your right hand. So, as the legend goes, the British simply morphed the horse into the car and voila; driving on the left side.
Do the Left Thing
I can personally attests to the fact that driving on the left side of the road is entirely possible and in fact in some ways makes more sense. They say the right side of our brain controls the left body functions and vice versa. So, wouldn’t it make perfect sense that since most of us are dominate right-handers, that the more important side – the side most close to the oncoming traffic – be the right. I’ve driven from London to Manchester and the entire concept of difficult left-hand turns is turned completely on its head. Right turns become a little more problematic.
Back in America I guess the best thing is to go with the flow. Drive on the right side of the road. Why mess things up for other drivers. Though, in my heart of hearts, secretly, I’m actually driving on the left. Please don’t tell anybody.
Steven Alan Green