Ever wonder why the British, and a few other nationalities, drive on the left-hand side of the road while our great nation, founded by many British seeking life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, drives on the right? Of course the automobile wasn’t invented yet when our country was founded, but the reason for the difference goes back that far.
Centuries ago in Great Britain, travelers on horse-back would traverse paths and roads for various reasons…trade, family visits, communications, etc. Many of these travelers journeyed alone through areas where bandits and other unethical characters traveled looking for an easy target and a quick fortune. Many of these characters carried daggers as the toll they used to ply their trade of robbery and assault. In order to distinguish threat from innocent traveler, riders traveled on the left side of the road to allow their right hand to be seen as empty and therefore non-threatening to passersby. Additionally, soldiers carried their swords on the left making it difficult to mount a horse from the right or address threats coming from the left side. All subsequent modes of transportation in British states adapted this anachronistic practice thus the Brits drive on the left.
On the other hand, settlers in early America more often traveled by wagon because they were moving goods around to settle new places and open new frontiers. The wagon driver needed to sit on the left hand side of the vehicle in order to handle the reins of the team pulling the cart. If the horses were spooked by an oncoming traveler, bandit or not, the most important thing was keeping the wagon on all four wheels and moving forward. This same practice also took place in European nations, with the exception of Great Britain.
In both cases, the practice of driving on either side of the road was driven by the fact that the majority of travelers were right-handed. So why do I point this out. NOT to make light of my left-handed friends. It’s really to point out that many of the things we consider NORMAL were driven by the majority with no question about the reason for doing it this way or that. While it certainly is good to have standards (we’d have many more accidents if we all just chose our favorite side of the road) it’s worth asking why we do something a certain way in order to determine if we’ve just settled for the way we’ve always done it.