There are several rules and laws that are followed the same way in several countries. However, exceptions do exist and there is a good chance that you might have noticed some changes whenever you had visited another country.
The differences may be surprising since a person has been accustomed to his own country’s lifestyle, one such difference that exists in many countries is the driver’s side of a vehicle.
There may be a time when you have noticed some video on the internet where the driver’s seat is on the other side compared to your car.
At first glance, it may look odd and a sort of manufacturing fault but there are certain reasons why the driver’s position is on the other side and today we will discuss these reasons and some other important information. As discussed earlier, the driver’s seat can either be on the left or right side of a car depending on the region and country.
Vehicles that have their steering wheel and other driver’s controls on the right side of the car are called RHD – right-hand drive cars and they have their driver’s side on the right side of the car.
On the contrary, several vehicles have their driving controls and steering mounted on their left side these vehicles are referred to as LHD – left-hand drive cars/vehicles, such vehicles have their driver’s side on the left side of the car.
To determine the side of a car, you just have to sit on any of its seats and your left side will be the left side of the car and vice versa. There are some reasons why cars are made with different configurations and they are mentioned below.
The Reason behind Right Hand Drive(RHD) Cars:
There are many similarities among the countries that have similar driver position. Generally, most of the former British colonies such as India, Pakistan, and Australia have their driver’s controls mounted on the right side of the car and this is true for several other countries.
In fact, some 35% of the world’s population drives on the left side which accounts for nearly 55 countries and the reason behind this is rather unbelievable and dates back to several hundreds of years ago.
Most people used to be and still are right-handed so in the earlier days, swordsmen used to move on the left side so that they would have an advantage against their opponent. Furthermore, it is easier to mount a horse from the left side since the sword is mounted on the left side of the body.
The Reason behind Left-Hand Drive (LHD) Cars:
The tradition for driving on the left side of the road began to change when the great French conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte started taking control of various countries and enforcing right-hand side driving.
All of this change was because he was left-handed and wanted the countries under his control to follow the rules that matched his personality.
You may be wondering why the U.S drives on the right side and why their cars have driver controls on the left side. The reasons are rather ambiguous and the first one is that Americans wanted to get rid of any traces of British colonization, the second reason is primarily because of the mechanics of old horse wagons.
The introduction of the famous Ford Model T by Henry Ford with a left-hand drive further solidified this tradition and since then nearly every car used in the U.S has been an LHD car.
Can you drive an RHD car in a country where traffic moves on the right lane & vice versa?
Many people ask the question of whether they can drive a left-hand drive car in a country where people drive on the left side of the road and vice versa.
The exact answer to this question varies depending upon the country, for instance, some countries especially where driving laws are strict don’t even allow the import and sale of cars whose driver’s side is on the wrong side.
This is a good thing when you consider that all road signs and conditions are developed according to a particular driver’s side.
Also shifting onto a vehicle that has driver’s controls mounted on the opposite side can cause significant confusion since the gear lever will also be on the wrong side.
The position of the gear lever obviously does not matter if the car has an automatic transmission but driving a manual transmission car while sitting on the wrong side will be a significant change and you can probably mess up gear changes.
Ordering parts for RHD & LHD cars:
It is important to remember your car’s driving position when ordering a car part especially if the parts are to be ordered from another country.
A car’s parts are just like your shoes, you can only use the right part for your right side and the left one for the left side. There is no need to get confused as it is fairly easy to determine the size of a car, all you have to do is to sit in any seat of a car and your left hand will be the left side of the car and your right hand will be its right side.
However, this geometry does not affect the way you have to order parts for your car, right-hand parts will fit the right side and left-hand parts will fit the left side of a vehicle.
However, the important thing to remember here is that auto parts shops sometimes use the driver’s side to refer to the parts, though it is generally used for parts that are exported to other countries since driver position varies from country to country.
If you buy a part for the driver’s side in the U.S then it will fit the left side of your car since cars are left-hand drive in the U.S, whereas a passenger-side part in the U.S refers to a part that will only fit on the right side of a car.
On the other hand, the driver’s side will mean the right side of a car and the passenger side refers to the left side of a vehicle in case you are in a country such as Australia or the United Kingdom where people drive on the left side of the road.
Overall buying spare parts for your car is not a big deal especially if they are locally sourced. You only have to remember the driver’s side whenever you are ordering a part from another country where people drive on the other side of the road.
In most cases, auto stores have labeled the parts as RHD (for right-hand drive) and LHD (for left-hand drive) vehicles so that it is easy for you to choose the right part for your car.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.