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Driving on the left.

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Leinad, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. Bit of an odd question maybe, but it's been bothering me for a while, and having just returned from France, where they drive on the right, my curiosity is renewed. Even if I can't spell curiousity (one of those has to be right!).

    We here in Ireland drive on the left side of the road. As far as I know (could be wrong here), so do Britain, Australia and Japan. I don't know of any others. Does anybody know if there's a reason for this, or is it just random chance? The only link I can find between the countries that drive on the left is that they're all island nations, whether this has anything to do with anything else I don't know. Any ideas?
  2. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I'm not sure about other places, but I've been told that travelling on the right side of the road began during feudal times, when it was a major (read: deadly) slight for one warrior to ride past another and let his scabbard smack against the other rider.

    I've no idea as to the truth of it, but it at least makes for a kinda cool story.
  3. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    This is just a guess, but in a RHD car, when you drive on the left, your passengers can alight the vehicle onto the kerb and do not have to step out onto the road.

    However I dont know. It could just be random!
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I had a dream where I was driving on the right side of the street(in america) but we were all supposed to be driving on the left, but only like half of the cars on the road were doing it, and many near collisions occurred.
  5. Only one way streets. All highways are elevated going south and west, and northbound and eastbound travel underneath them.

  6. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    and roundabouts lots and lots of roundabouts :)
  7. I fear traveling to the countries you listed solely because of the road system, because I KNOW I would screw it up and drive on the wrong side of the road and end up killing someone :meh:
  8. Dangit! I was preoccupied with cooking dinner, and didn't put that part in!

    Of course there's roundabouts! Only the best.

    On a side note, they've just put a few roundabouts in the "classier" parts of town. I love the udder confusion these cause people. No one uses a signal to indicate when they're getting out. It's just amazing that a city planner would think this is a good idea lol
  9. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Roundabout seem to work fine in many different places around the world. Sounds like the problem you are describing is because of the people and not the roundabout.
  10. Roundabouts work well when people are used to them. In the US people aren't used to them. Wasn't there an issue of rabbits or something being introduced into Australia? Rabbits get along in other ecosystems in the world. Was there a problem with the rabbits being there or a problem with all the other animals just not getting used to the rabbits? Besides, a 4 way intersection is much simpler, and cheaper for the municipality.
  11. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    So you are equating the ability of US citizens to learn to use a roundabout with the ability of plants to adapt to an introduced predator?

    I don't think you are giving your fellow citizens enough credit. :meh:
  12. jbass


    Mar 22, 2004
    I have read that the reason for driving left is that during the new age, these countries were already using horse drawn carriages for commercial transport. Lashing the whip would have high probability of accidentally hitting pedestrians if driving on the right side of the road (since most coaches during those times were right handed in whipping). To avoid these accidents, they made a law to drive on the left side of the road.

    Jake D.
  13. Well... actually... :p

    My point was putting a foreign entity in a stable environment isn't always a good thing.

    BTW they put in a roundabout on a county highway intersection near here. Forty five MPH on one side, 40 on the other. :confused:
  14. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Im not sure if the example was exactly apt - roundabouts are fairly simple, give way (yeild) to the right (possibly the left in the USA). If we sought to avoid introducing new, but beneficial, things into stable environments, we wouldnt have any number of inventions, including the internet.

    BTW it shouldnt really matter if the speeds are different on a roundabout, as you always give way to traffic on the inside of the roundabout. The speed differential shouldnt matter.
  15. That's just it. The people. It totally works for me
  16. yeah, the only roundabout i know of in the states is actually so frikin wierd where it is. Its on the outside of a neighborhood, like several yards away, there is a roundabout.....BUT NO INTERSECTING ROADS. Its just a straight road, with a roundabout put on it. I think its to relieve stress or something. Nothings more fun than driving in cirles and eating cat food.
  17. Here's the straigh dope from The Straight Dope

  18. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Uummmmm........ you don't ride a motorcycle do you? Those roundabouts are dangerous. At best I'd say about 70% of people know how to use them, the other 30% are out to kill me.

    But even if you assume people know how to negotiate a roundabout, there are other problems. Firstly they sit slightly above road level, creating a negative camber of the road. That's not a big deal in a car, but on a leaning motorcycle it reduces the amount of tyre that's in contact with the road, thus reducing grip. The solution is to slow right down right? WRONG! The car behind you isn't expecting it, and his eyes are fixed firmly on the traffic already on the roundabout. I can't tell you how many times I've approached a roundabout and heard skidding tyres behind me.

    The other probem is that they try to beautify them by planting a garden in the middle of them. They then let it grow into a jungle, restricting your visibility. Every garden needs regular maintainance, but all we get an automatic sprinkler. This creates a further problem. I often get half way around perfectly dry roundabout, remember that I'm already faced with reduced grip from the negative road camber, to find that the other half of the roundabout is under an inch of water. At this point the bike becomes a jet-ski.

    I've noticed a couple of roundabouts have been removed in favour of traffic lights, and I for one am happy about that.
  19. It doesn't matter about the difference in speeds, just that this intersection is in a fairly rural area on a (formerly) well traveled highway. I can almost understand an urban intersection, but a roundabout is no more beneficial than a standard 4 way intersection (with either a 2 or 4 way stop sign or lights), especially where there are NO OTHER ROUNDABOUTS within at least 40 miles.

    Out of curiosity, what makes a roundabout "better" than a controlled intersection?
  20. unharmed

    unharmed Iron Fishes

    May 19, 2003
    London, England
    Roundabouts would be much improved if they were referred to by their original name: gyratory circuses.