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Whether you are learner driver or an experienced motorist, you can email any driving-related question to info@wycombedrivingschool.co.uk and you will receive a personal response from Wycombe Driving School boss Audrey Wixon, pictured. The best questions and answers will be published on this website anonymously.

Audrey is a DSA ADI; DIAmond, IAM and RoSPA Gold Advanced Driver; Fleet Trainer; Observer for Institute of Advanced Motorists; & National Standard cycling instructor

Audrey Wixon - manager of Wycombe Driving School
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Why do we drive on the left side of the road?

Q: Why do some countries drive on the left and others on the right? It seems to me that we are the odd ones out.

drive on left sign A: About a third of the people in the world live in countries where traffic drives on the left - the UK and former British colonies mainly - but it used to be much more common.

In the past nearly everyone travelled on the left side of the road. This was because most swordsmen were right handed and wore their swords on their left side. Walking on the left of the road prevented their swords from hitting people they passed on the other side. Also you would need to mount a horse from the left side if wearing a sword and it is safer to mount and dismount towards the side of the road, rather than in the middle of traffic.

The switch to using the right side of the road started in the late 1700s in France when big wagons pulled by several horses began driving on the right. This was because the driver sat on the rear left horse so his right arm was free to whip them and by driving on the right he was closer to oncoming traffic and so could pass it more safely. Napoleon’s conquests spread the culture of driving on the right and over the years neighbouring countries have switched one by one. The most recent country to switch to the right side was Ghana in 1974.

In the 1960s, the UK also considered changing but the fact that it would cost billions of pounds to switch everything round put an end to that idea. Today, only four European countries still drive on the left: the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta.
Audrey Wixon
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Wycombe Driving School - for driving lessons in High Wycombe and surrounding areas - including Amersham, Beaconsfield, Marlow, Hazlemere, Stokenchurch and Princes Risborough. We offer successful, structured driving lessons, providing free theory test software and lesson handouts. Male and female driving instructors are available, providing both manual and automatic driving lessons.