There are several things that divide countries into different groups. From the perspective of automobile industry, the world is divided into left-hand drive and right-hand drive countries. Historical records show that many of the regions that were part of French colonial empire adopted left-hand drive. And right-hand drive gained prominence among regions that were earlier part of British Empire. Although some countries have switched these choices, the world remains divided into left-hand drive and right-hand drive.
It makes us wonder which among the two is better? Is left-hand drive better than right-hand drive? Or right-hand drive is better than left-hand drive? To answer such questions, here are some important things to know.
Manual transmission – Although automatic gearbox is currently preferred, there was a time when only manual transmission option was available with vehicles. As the majority of the population is right-handed, it makes sense to have the gear lever on left side. This ensures that the more active right hand can take proper control of the steering wheel. However, with the availability of automatic gearbox and steering mounted controls, this advantage is no longer available. If you are a right-handed person and using a vehicle with manual transmission, a right-hand drive vehicle will be easier and more comfortable to drive.
Brake and accelerator pedal – In a right-handed individual, it’s not just the right hand that is stronger. The right leg is also stronger as compared to the left. This is why the accelerator pedal is always placed on the right. As already mentioned, majority of population is right-handed. So, placement of pedals is always in ‘accelerator, brake and clutch’ format. This is the same across both left-hand drive and right-hand drive vehicles. This shows that cars were built to favor right-handed individuals. This can be seen with various other products.
Safety – Surprisingly, it has been found that road accidents involving left-hand drive cars are fewer in comparison to that of right-hand drive cars. The exact reason for this phenomenon has not been ascertained yet, although many theories have been proposed.
Early adaption – Some things were adopted early in certain regions and the practice continues even today. The same applies to cars. It will be difficult for a country to make a shift, as it will involve complete transformation of road infrastructure, manufacturing facilities and driver skills. So, most countries stick to their existing practice of left-hand drive or right-hand drive.
Overall, it appears that there’s no clear way to decide which is better – left-hand drive or right-hand drive. The only major benefit seems to apply for right-handed individuals using a vehicle with manual transmission.
The difficulty level of both these systems is the same. Problems will arise only when you shift from left-hand drive to right-hand drive. It will essentially involve rewiring of the brain, which may take some time. Other than these factors, there doesn’t seem to be any other major difference between left-hand drive and right-hand drive cars.