A common misconception is that only Britain drives on the left hand side of the road, and we do it because we are strange, eccentric or out dated. I have spent considerable time looking into this and have found the reasons for countries driving habits baffling and bamboozling to say the least.

The first thing to clear up is that everybody has always driven, ridden, strolled or cantered on the left since time immerorial, but if we are talking about the actual LAW of DRIVING on the left then it’s a bit more complex due to types of transport, governments, wars and colonization.
If you go back as far as roads and wheels then I suppose you are talking about the Romans. Evidence is stacked in the favour of left for our Roman friends, this was found out due to the heavy erosion on Roman roads near quarries and supply depots. When the carts went in fully laden they caused more wear and tear on the left side of the road, on the return journey the damage was minimal as the carts were empty. As Christianity took it’s course over Europe Papal Law also declared that all carriages must pass on the left. In other parts of the World we only have evidence that the Chinese also went left.
The actual reason why the left was usually used  is simple. About 90% of people are right handed and in the dark lanes of the past you never knew who was approaching round the corner, riding on the left enabled people to draw their arms with their right hand and face the oncoming menace. This fact is probably trued for the Samurai retainers in Feudal Japan. This use of the right hand also comes into play for those on the right too. As time passed and loads increased so did the size of the roads and the number of horses used. With more horses the driver needed to keep his whip in his right hand and was thus seated to the left rear of the horses. Being seated at the left hand side obviously meant that to be in the centre of the road and see approaching traffic they had to go to the right. These monster carts were only really necessary in France and the United States, as the States are situated next to Canada many Canadian provinces also adapted using the right.
Another factor in the rather snooty France was that the gentry walked on the right and the plebs stayed on the other side. All this was to change after the Revolution, by the time Napolean came to power he made it law to use the right hand side. Napolean is the single most important figure in this whole debate, all the areas under his considerable influence were also forced to use the right. In this respect Europe was divided, in fact Austria was only half conquered by Napolean so it used both sides of the road for a time. The other important cultural imperialist was Hitler. Those areas who didn’t bow down to Napolean did to Hitler. This meant that such lefties as Poland, Czechoslavakia and the rest of the Austro-Hungarian Empire switched during the Nazi occupations.
Not all nations changed due to outside pressure though, for many it was a simple organic process…like the Russians who changed by WWI. The Swedes (unconquered during WWII) did it in the late 50’s because they grew tired of making their Volvos and Saabs in two different ways. Japan’s decision was influenced by British Naval presence in the 19th century, but this is academic as they always rode on the left anyway. Many places switched from left to right due to their neighbours driving on the right hand side, it makes border crossings and customs a whole lot easier.
As for the rest of the World…it’s a tale of colonization and conquest. A country’s law usually reflects its colonial past Nearly all countries of the British Empire drove on the left, this includes a sizeable population…India alone is 1 billion, Indonesia 237 million, Pakistan 170 million and so on. They may not all have cars but they represent a sizeable chunk of the World’s population.
Egypt suffered under that little French lad for a while so it drives on the right like many of the West African francophone nations. Indonesia still drives on the left as it was colonized by Portuguese and Dutch. You are thinking….Portugal and Holland drive on the right, they were not fully colonized by Napolean and only switched in the early 20th century. South Korea switched after the Japanese lefties left, this may have been about throwing off the shackles of colonization or because they shared a border with China. The funniest of all the stories is Pakistan. Pakistan was keen to switch at one stage but there was money in the Camel Caravans and they could’nt teach the camels to switch to the other side!!!
Anyway, when the next person asks you about this here are some countries to throw at them (you are not alone.) All the following drive on the left:
East Timor
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
South Africa
Sri Lanka

Cars on the left in Hong Kong.

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