Why do the British drive on the left?

left hand driveHello, my question is not a grammar one, but I really would like to know why British people drive on the left side of the road though I know they say it is the rest of the world that drives on the wrong side! Thanks a lot. Guendalina

Thank you for asking such a great question: questions like this are more fun to answer than ones about grammar!
We did a bit of research on this and the best explanation seems to be the French Revolution. In medieval times everyone passed on the left when walking along the road (this was because they carried their swords on their left. Most people were right-handed and they drew their swords with their right hand). This principle also applied to people riding on horses: they travelled on the left-hand side of the road. Horse traffic increased in England in the 18th century and a special law was passed, saying that horses and carriages had to keep to the left. French aristocrats also travelled on the left: the poor peasants travelled on the right (for their own safety!). But when the French Revolution broke out most aristocrats were killed and everybody started travelling on the right. Britain never had a revolution and so British horse traffic stayed on the left. Traffic naturally stayed on the left in British colonies, with the exception of America, which also had a revolution at that time. The Americans won their independence from the British. They followed the French (who were their allies in the revolutionary war). When the motor car came along, most of the world followed France and America (although some Asian countries followed Britain).
For more information, click here: http://www.amphicars.com/acleft.htm

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