Driving on the Left: A Guide to Left-Hand Traffic in 5 Countries


For most of us, driving on the right side of the road feels natural and intuitive. Yet, did you know that there are countries where drivers travel on the left side of the road? This quirky traffic rule can pose a challenge to many drivers, especially to those who are used to driving on the opposite side. In this article, we will explore which 5 countries have left-hand traffic, its cultural and historical significance, and learn some essential tips for driving on the left.

Driving on the Left: Exploring the Quirky Traffic Rules of These 5 Countries

If you are planning to visit any of the following countries, you might want to take note of their left-hand traffic rule:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Japan
  • Indonesia
  • United Kingdom

Each of these countries has unique traffic rules to follow. For example, in Australia, you must keep left on the road and overtake on the right. In the United Kingdom, you must drive on the left-hand side of the road and overtake on the right. In New Zealand, you must yield to traffic on your right, and in Japan, the driver sits on the right-hand side of the car.

Navigating Left-Hand Traffic: Essential Tips for Driving in These 6 Countries

Driving on the left-hand side of the road can be a challenge for many drivers. However, with the right preparation, anyone can adjust to this quirky traffic rule. Here are some essential tips for adapting to left-hand traffic:

  • Follow the local traffic rules
  • Keep your attention on the road and avoid distractions
  • Pay extra attention when turning at intersections
  • Use your rearview and side mirrors more frequently
  • Practice driving in a less crowded area first

If you plan to rent a car and drive in any of these 6 countries, keep in mind that you need to have an international driver’s permit and must be familiar with the local traffic rules.

Why Do Some Countries Drive on the Left? A Cultural and Historical Exploration

The historical reasons why certain countries drive on the left are mostly tied to their colonizing powers from the past. For example, the British colonized many parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, India, and Indonesia. The United Kingdom established the “keep left” rule to avoid head-on collisions with horse-drawn carriages in the 18th century.

On the other hand, most countries outside of Europe and the British Empire drive on the right-hand side of the road. The shift to the right was influenced by the French Revolution in 1789, which brought about several changes in society, including traffic laws. Napoleon Bonaparte later standardized this traffic rule in Europe.

The Advantages and Challenges of Left-Hand Traffic: Comparing These 6 Countries

Driving on the left-hand side of the road has its benefits and challenges. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of left-hand traffic:

  • Advantages:
    • Improved visibility of oncoming traffic
    • Less confusion at intersections
    • Reduced accidents on highways
  • Challenges:
    • Difficulty adapting to the opposite side of the road
    • Higher risk of accidents during lane changes
    • Less access to left-hand drive cars

Comparing Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, it is clear that left-hand traffic has its unique advantages and challenges for each country. However, with the right knowledge and preparation, anyone can safely navigate left-hand traffic.

A Tourist’s Guide to Driving on the Left: Tips, Tricks, and Need-to-Knows for These 5 Countries

Driving on the left-hand side of the road can be daunting for tourists visiting a new country. Here are some tips, tricks, and need-to-knows when driving in these 5 countries:

  • Australia:
    • Watch out for wildlife on the road
    • Be familiar with the traffic rules and road signs
    • Keep in mind that Australia has some of the longest roads in the world, so take frequent breaks
  • New Zealand:
    • Drive cautiously during the winter months, as snow and ice can make roads hazardous
    • Take your time and enjoy the scenic drives
    • Be prepared for narrow, winding roads in some areas
  • Japan:
    • Be aware of bikes and motorbikes on the road
    • Be familiar with the local road signs and symbols
    • Keep in mind that parking in big cities like Tokyo can be a challenge
  • Indonesia:
    • Be alert for obstacles on the road, such as potholes, pedestrians, and animals
    • Be aware of high traffic volume in big cities like Jakarta
    • Do not drive at night unless necessary, as there can be dangerous road conditions
  • United Kingdom:
    • Be prepared to drive on narrow and winding roads, especially in rural areas
    • Slow down near roundabouts, and give way to vehicles already on them
    • Be prepared to drive on the opposite side of the car if you are not from the UK

The Evolution and Future of Left-Hand Traffic: A Comparative Study of These 6 Countries

Left-hand traffic has evolved over time, and some countries have shifted from left to right or vice versa. For example, Sweden switched to driving on the right in 1967, and Nigeria switched to driving on the left in 1972.

In the future, there may be a gradual shift towards right-hand traffic due to globalization and the increased availability of left-hand drive cars. Nevertheless, left-hand traffic remains a critical aspect of the culture of these 5 countries and will likely continue to do so for many years to come.


Driving on the left-hand side of the road can be a unique and sometimes challenging experience, but with the right preparation and a little bit of practice, anyone can navigate left-hand traffic. Remember to follow the local traffic rules and take your time to adjust to this quirky traffic rule.

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