Which side of the road do you drive on?
February 6, 2002 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Which side of the road do you drive on?
It's all down to which side you held your sword on, in the end. (Via Fark.)
posted by Mwongozi (4 comments total)
in order to pre-empt any 'who cares?' posting, the answer is explained in the link: 'The Rule of The Road An International Guide to History and Practice' By Peter Kincaid
is the authority on the subject.
The question 'who cares' has been taken to it's logical extreme with the 'Kincaid surname DNA project'.possibly.
it is one of those eternal questions for international travellers...
which has now been answered.
posted by asok at 10:42 AM on February 6, 2002

Joe Flake notes that in 1983, he visited St Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and found that one drives on the left side of the road, but the cars are all US-standard, with the driver sitting on the left-hand side of the car. "Confusing enough to be on the 'wrong' side, but passing on the narrow roads was a real treat. You really depend on the passenger! Ease out across the center line and get either approval or a loud 'NO!' from the passenger."

This is still true. Another complication is that the headlights on left-sided driver cars are canted to the left a bit so as to take in the whole road, so in the US Virgin Islands (all three islands have left-sided driving in right-sided cars), you get the lights of oncoming vehicles right in the face. Making it worse is that the style is to drive monster SUV's with fog lights, halogen lamps and the whole bit, so you are nearly blinded.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2002

The "sword" explanation has always seemed fishy to me. I rather like the stagecoach and postillion explanation myself -- which seems to be the general direction of the Kincaid book.
posted by dhartung at 12:16 PM on February 6, 2002

My wife and I once took a 16 hour flight from the States to New Zealand and immediately drove into Auckland using a right-sided steering wheel car.

Everytime I tried to use the turn indicator, I turned on the window wipers. And, we soon realized that the navigator (the one of us not driving) couldn't just say "make a left turn here" or "right turn there." We associated a left turn with the turn across traffic. So we had to tell each other "ok, you're going to make THE BIG TURN at the next block" or "THE LITTLE TURN right here."

It was an interesting perceptual challenge.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 6:48 AM on February 7, 2002

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