Left- and right-hand traffic
Left-hand traffic (LHT) and right-hand traffic (RHT) are the practice, in bidirectional traffic, of keeping to the left side or to the right side of the road, respectively. A fundamental element to traffic flow, it is sometimes referred to as the rule of the road.
RHT is used in 165 countries and territories, with the remaining 75 countries and territories using LHT. Countries that use LHT account for about a sixth of the world's area with about 35% of its population and a quarter of its roads. In 1919, 104 of the world's territories were LHT and an equal number were RHT. From 1919 to 1986, 34 of the LHT territories switched to RHT.
Many of the countries with LHT were formerly part of the British Empire. In addition, Japan, Thailand, Suriname, and other countries have retained the LHT tradition. Conversely, many of the countries with RHT were formerly part of the French colonial empire or, in Europe, were subject to French rule during the Napoleonic conquests.
For rail traffic, LHT predominates in Western Europe (except Germany, Denmark, Austria, Spain and the Netherlands), Latin America (except Mexico), and in countries formerly in the British and French Empires, whereas North American and central and eastern European train services operate RHT.
According to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, water traffic is effectively RHT: a vessel proceeding along a narrow channel must keep to starboard (the right-hand side), and when two power-driven vessels are meeting head-on both must alter course to starboard also. For aircraft the US Federal Aviation Regulations suggest RHT principles, both in the air and on water.
In healthy populations, traffic safety is thought to be the same regardless of handedness, although some researchers have speculated that LHT may be safer for ageing populations since humans are more commonly right-eye dominant than left-eye dominant.
- 1 History
- 2 Changing sides
- 3 Safety
- 4 Changing sides at borders
- 5 Road vehicle configurations
- 6 Worldwide distribution by country
- 7 Rail traffic
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman troops kept to the left when marching. In 1998, archaeologists found a well-preserved double track leading to a Roman quarry near Swindon, in southern England. The grooves in the road on the left side (viewed facing down the track away from the quarry) were much deeper than those on the right side, suggesting LHT, at least at this location, since carts would exit the quarry heavily loaded, and enter it empty.
Some historians, such as C. Northcote Parkinson, believed that ancient travellers on horseback or on foot generally kept to the left, since most people were right-handed. If two men riding on horseback were to start a fight, each would edge toward the left. In the year 1300, Pope Boniface VIII directed pilgrims to keep left.
In the late 1700s, traffic in the United States was RHT based on teamsters' use of large freight wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. The wagons had no driver's seat, so the (typically right-handed) postilion held his whip in his right hand and thus sat on the left rear horse. Seated on the left, the driver preferred that other wagons pass him on the left so that he could be sure to keep clear of the wheels of oncoming wagons.
In France, traditionally foot traffic had kept right, while carriage traffic kept left. Following the French Revolution, all traffic kept right. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the French imposed RHT on parts of Europe. During the colonial period, RHT was introduced by the French in New France, French West Africa, the Maghreb, French Indochina, the West Indies, French Guiana and the Réunion, among others.
Meanwhile, LHT was introduced by the British in parts of Canada (Atlantic Canada and British Columbia), Australia, New Zealand, the East Africa Protectorate (now Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), British India, Rhodesia and the Cape Colony (now Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa), British Malaya (now Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore), British Guiana, and British Hong Kong. LHT was also introduced by the Portuguese Empire in Portuguese Macau, Colonial Brazil, Portuguese Timor, Portuguese Mozambique, and Portuguese Angola.
The first keep-right law for driving in the United States was passed in 1792 and applied to the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike. New York formalized RHT in 1804, New Jersey in 1813 and Massachusetts in 1821.
In the early 1900s some countries including Canada, Spain, and Brazil had different rules in different parts of the country. During the 1900s many countries standardised within their jurisdictions, and changed from LHT to RHT, mostly to conform with regional custom. Currently nearly all countries use one side or the other throughout their entire territory. Most exceptions are due to historical considerations and/or involve islands with no road connection to the main part of a country. China is RHT except the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge is RHT even though both Hong Kong and Macau are LHT. The United States is RHT except the United States Virgin Islands. The United Kingdom is LHT, but its overseas territories of Gibraltar and British Indian Ocean Territory are RHT.
Influential in Europe was the 1920 Paris Convention, which advised driving on the right-hand side of the road, in order to harmonise traffic across a continent with many borders. This was despite the fact that left-hand traffic was still widespread: in 1915 for example, LHT was introduced everywhere in the Austro-Hungarian Empire; however, three years later the Empire was split up into several countries, and they all changed eventually to RHT, notably including when Nazi Germany introduced RHT with almost immediate effect in Czechoslovakia in 1938–39.
Sweden was LHT from about 1734 to 1967, despite having land borders with RHT countries, and approximately 90 percent of cars being left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles. A referendum was held in 1955, with an overwhelming majority voting against a change to RHT. Nevertheless, some years later the government ordered a conversion, which took place at 5 am on Sunday, 3 September 1967. The accident rate dropped sharply after the change, but soon rose back to near its original level. The day was known as Dagen H ("H-Day"), the 'H' being for Högertrafik ("right traffic"). When Iceland switched the following year, it was known as H-dagurinn, again meaning "H-Day".
In the late 1960s, the UK Department for Transport considered switching to RHT, but declared it unsafe and too costly for such a built-up nation. Road building standards, for motorways in particular, allow asymmetrically designed road junctions, where merge and diverge lanes differ in length.
Asia and the Pacific
Samoa, a former German colony, had been RHT for more than a century. It switched to LHT in 2009, being the first territory in almost 30 years to switch. The move was legislated in 2008 to allow Samoans to use cheaper right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles—which are better suited for left-hand traffic—imported from Australia, New Zealand or Japan, and to harmonise with other South Pacific nations. A political party, The People's Party, was formed to try to protest against the change, a protest group which launched a legal challenge, and an estimated 18,000 people attending demonstrations against it. The motor industry was also opposed, as 14,000 of Samoa's 18,000 vehicles are designed for RHT and the government has refused to meet the cost of conversion. After months of preparation, the switch from right to left happened in an atmosphere of national celebration. There were no reported incidents. At 05:50 local time, Monday 7 September, a radio announcement halted traffic, and an announcement at 6:00 ordered traffic to switch to LHT. The change coincided with more restrictive enforcement of speeding and seat-belt laws. That day and the following day were declared public holidays, to reduce traffic. The change included a three-day ban on alcohol sales, while police mounted dozens of checkpoints, warning drivers to drive slowly.
The Philippines was mostly LHT during its Spanish and American colonial periods, as well as during the Commonwealth era. During the Japanese occupation the Philippines remained LHT, also because LHT had been required by the Japanese; but during the Battle of Manila the liberating American forces drove their tanks to the right for easier facilitation of movement. RHT was formally finalised by Executive Order No. 34 signed by President Sergio Osmeña on 10 March 1945.
A number of non-contiguous former British colonies in West Africa originally drove LHT and switched to RHT in the early 1970s to match the surrounding countries. Sierra Leone switched to RHT in 1971, Nigeria in 1972 and Ghana in 1974. Before this period The Gambia, a country entirely contained within RHT Senegal, had officially switched to RHT in 1965.
Rwanda, a former Belgian colony in central Africa, is RHT but is considering switching to LHT, to bring the country in line with other members of the East African Community (EAC). A survey, carried out in 2009, indicated that 54% of Rwandans were in favour of the switch. Reasons cited were the perceived lower costs of RHD vehicles as opposed to LHD versions of the same model, easier maintenance and the political benefit of harmonisation of traffic regulations with other EAC countries. The same survey also indicated that RHD cars are 16 to 49 per cent cheaper than their LHD equivalents. In 2014 an internal report from consultants to the Ministry of Infrastructure recommended a switch to LHT. In 2015, the ban on RHD vehicles was lifted; RHD trucks from neighbouring countries cost $1000 less than LHD models imported from Europe.
In one study, researchers concluded that left-hand traffic may be safer for elderly drivers, since humans are more commonly right-eye dominant than left-eye dominant. Comparing accident statistics between countries operating either LHT or RHT, Leeming concluded that LHT is superior. However, Watson has criticised the small sample size and dismisses the notion.
Changing sides at borders
Although many LHT jurisdictions are on islands, there are cases where vehicles may be driven from LHT across a border into a RHT area. Such borders are mostly located in Africa and southern Asia. The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic regulates the use of foreign registered vehicles in the 74 countries that have ratified it.
LHT Thailand has three RHT neighbors: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar. Most of its borders use a simple traffic light to do the switch, but there are also interchanges which enable the switch while keeping up a continuous flow of traffic.
There are four road border crossing points between Hong Kong and Mainland China. In 2006, the daily average number of vehicle trips recorded at Lok Ma Chau was 31,100. The next largest is Man Kam To, where there is no changeover system and the border roads on the mainland side Wenjindu intersect as one-way streets with a main road.
Although the United Kingdom is separated from Continental Europe by the English Channel, the level of cross-Channel traffic is very high; the Channel Tunnel alone carries 3.5 million vehicles per year by the Eurotunnel Shuttle between the UK and France.
Road vehicle configurations
Driver seating position
In RHT jurisdictions, vehicles are configured with LHD, with the driver sitting on the left side. In LHT jurisdictions, the reverse is true. The driver's side, the side closest to the centre of the road, is sometimes called the offside, while the passenger side, the side closest to the side of the road, is sometimes called the nearside.
Historically there was less consistency in the relationship of the position of the driver to the handedness of traffic. Most American cars produced before 1910 were RHD. In 1908 Henry Ford standardised the Model T as LHD in RHT America, arguing that with RHD and RHT, the passenger was obliged to "get out on the street side and walk around the car" and that with steering from the left, the driver "is able to see even the wheels of the other car and easily avoids danger." By 1915 other manufacturers followed Ford's lead, due to the popularity of the Model T.
In specialised cases, the driver will sit on the nearside, or kerbside. Examples include:
- Where the driver needs a good view of the nearside, e.g. street sweepers, or vehicles driven along unstable road edges.
- Where it is more convenient for the driver to be on the nearside, e.g. delivery vehicles. The Grumman LLV postal delivery truck is widely used with RHD configurations in RHT North America. Some Unimogs are designed to switch between LHD and RHD to permit operators to work on the more convenient side of the truck.
Generally, the convention is to mount a motorcycle on the left, and kickstands are usually on the left which makes it more convenient to mount on the safer kerbside as is the case in LHT. Some jurisdictions prohibit fitting a sidecar to a motorcycle's offside.
Headlamps and other lighting equipment
Most low-beam headlamps produce an asymmetrical light suitable for use on only one side of the road. Low beam headlamps in LHT jurisdictions throw most of their light forward-leftward; those for RHT throw most of their light forward-rightward, thus illuminating obstacles and road signs while minimising glare for oncoming traffic.
In Europe, headlamps approved for use on one side of the road must be adaptable to produce adequate illumination with controlled glare for temporarily driving on the other side of the road,:p.13 ¶5.8. This may be achieved by affixing masking strips or prismatic lenses to a part of the lens or by moving all or part of the headlamp optic so all or part of the beam is shifted or the asymmetrical portion is occluded.:p.13 ¶5.8.1 Some varieties of the projector-type headlamp can be fully adjusted to produce a proper LHT or RHT beam by shifting a lever or other movable element in or on the lamp assembly.:p.12 ¶5.4 Some vehicles adjust the headlamps automatically when the car's GPS detects that the vehicle has moved from LHT to RHT and vice versa.
Because blackout strips and adhesive prismatic lenses reduce the safety performance of the headlamps, most countries require all vehicles registered or used on a permanent or semi-permanent basis within the country to be equipped with headlamps designed for the correct traffic-handedness.
Without sidecars attached, motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds, and bicycles are almost symmetric with their handlebars in the centre. However, motorcycles are often equipped with automotive-type asymmetrical-beam headlamps that likewise require adjustments or replacement when brought into a country with opposite traffic-handedness.
Rear fog lamps
In the European Union, vehicles must be equipped with one or two red rear fog lamps. A single rear fog lamp must be located between the vehicle's longitudinal centreline and the outer extent of the driver's side of the vehicle. Rear fog lamps are also being found on vehicles produced for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Crash testing differences
An Australian news source reports that some RHD cars imported to that country did not perform as well on crash tests as the LHD versions, although the cause is unknown, and may be due to differences in testing methodology.
Worldwide distribution by country
Of the 195 countries currently recognised by the United Nations, 141 use RHT and 54 use LHT on roads in general. A country and its territories and dependencies is counted once. Whichever directionality is listed first is the type that is used in general in the traffic category.
|Country||Road trafficuni||Road switched sides||Multi‑track rail traffic||Notes, exceptions|
|Afghanistan||RHT||RHT/LHT||Was LHT until the 1950s, in line with neighbouring British India and later Pakistan.|
|Angola||RHT||1928||Originally LHT, like its colonial power Portugal. Switched to RHT with Portugal in 1928.|
|Antigua and Barbuda||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Argentina||RHT||10 June 1945||LHT||The anniversary on 10 June is still observed each year as Día de la Seguridad Vial (road safety day). |
The Premetro and Metrotranvía Mendoza use RHT.
|Austria||RHT||1921–38||RHT||Originally LHT, like most of former Austria-Hungary. Switched sides in 1921 in Vorarlberg, 1930 in North Tyrol, 1935 in Carinthia and East Tyrol, and in 1938 in the rest of the country. The Semmering Railway uses LHT.|
|Bahrain||RHT||1967||Former British protectorate. Switched to same side as neighbours.|
|Belgium||RHT||1899||LHT||The Brussels Metro is nominally RHT, with LHT on the circle line west of Halle Gate. This was done to enable unidirectional vehicles to use island platforms.|
|Belize||RHT||1961||Former British colony. Switched to same side as neighbours.|
|Bhutan||LHT||Under British protection before 1949.|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||RHT||1918||RHT||Switched sides after the collapse of Austria-Hungary.|
|Brazil||RHT||1928||LHT/RHT||A Portuguese colony until the early 19th century as LHT and retained it at least partially following independence, switched some states still on LHT to RHT in 1928, the same year as Portugal.|
|Burundi||RHT||Former Belgian colony. Considering switching to LHT in line with neighbours Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.|
|Cambodia||RHT||LHT||RHT implemented while part of French Indochina. RHD cars, many of which were smuggled from Thailand, were banned from 2001, even though they accounted for 80% of vehicles in the country.|
|Canada||RHT||1920–24||RHT||Territories now in Canada have always been RHT, except British Columbia, which changed to RHT in stages from 1920 to 1923, and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island which changed in 1922, 1923, and 1924 respectively. Newfoundland and Labrador changed to RHT in 1947 while still a dominion of the British Empire, two years before joining Canada.|
|Cape Verde||RHT||1928||Originally LHT, like its colonial power Portugal. Switched to RHT with Portugal in 1928.|
|Central African Republic||RHT|
|Chile||RHT||1920s||LHT||The Santiago Metro uses RHT.|
|China||RHT||1946||LHT/RHT||LHT was uniform in the 1930s, then the northern provinces were RHT. Macau and Hong Kong are LHT. Metros are RHT, except Hong Kong and Macau MRT.|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||RHT||LHT|
|Croatia||RHT||RHT||Istria and Dalmatia were RHT, while Croatia-Slavonia was LHT when Croatia was part of Austria-Hungary. The LHT regions switched to RHT on joining the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.|
|Cyprus||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Czech Republic||RHT||1939||RHT||Was LHT, like most of former Austria-Hungary, switched during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.|
|Denmark||RHT||RHT||Includes Faroe Islands and Greenland|
|Dominica||LHT||Former British colony.|
|East Timor||LHT||1976||Originally LHT, like its colonial power Portugal. Switched to RHT with Portugal in 1928. Under the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, changed back to LHT in 1976.|
|Ecuador||RHT||LHT||The Quito Metro and Cuenca tram system will use RHT.|
|Egypt||RHT||LHT||Road vehicles are RHT due to French influence, but railway system was built by British companies. The Alexandria tramway network uses RHT.|
|Ethiopia||RHT||1964||LHT||The Addis Ababa Light Rail uses RHT.|
|Finland||RHT||1858||RHT/LHT||Formerly ruled as part of LHT Sweden, switched to RHT in 1858 as the Grand Duchy of Finland by Russian decree. Rail traffic uses RHT, except that most of the Helsinki commuter rail lines use LHT, but the Helsinki Metro uses RHT.|
(railways in Alsace and Moselle and most metro systems)
|Includes French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Guiana, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy, Collectivity of Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, Mayotte. |
Railroads generally use LHT, but in Alsace and Moselle they use RHT as a former part of German Empire. Most metro systems use RHT, including CDGVAL, except for the Lyon Metro.
|Gambia||RHT||1965||Former British colony. Switched to RHT as it is surrounded by former French RHT colonies.|
|Georgia||RHT||RHT||About 40% vehicles in Georgia are RHD due to the low cost of used cars imported from Japan. The Batumi Ropeway uses LHT.|
|Ghana||RHT||1974||Former British colony. Ghana changed to driving on the right on 4 August 1974, the last former British colony in the region to do so, the military National Redemption Council having passed the Right Hand Traffic Act by decree in 1973. When changing to RHT, a Twi language slogan was "Nifa, Nifa Enan" or "Right, Right, Fourth". Ghana has also banned RHD vehicles. Ghana prohibited new registrations of RHD vehicles after 1 August 1974, three days before the traffic change on 4 August 1974. RHD vehicles may be imported only temporarily into Sierra Leone, for example for humanitarian programmes, but must be exported at the end of the operation.|
|Guinea-Bissau||RHT||1928||Originally LHT, like its colonial power Portugal. Switched to RHT with Portugal in 1928.|
|Hungary||RHT||1941||RHT||Originally LHT, like most of Austria-Hungary. Most of the Suburban trains in Budapest use LHT, but the Budapest Metro uses RHT.|
(until the closure)
|The day of the switch was known as H-dagurinn. Most passenger cars were already LHD.|
|India||LHT||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Indonesia||LHT||RHT||Roads and railways were built by the Dutch, with LHT for roads to conform to Asian standards and RHT for railways. The Jakarta MRT will also use RHT.|
|Ireland||LHT||LHT||Part of the United Kingdom until 1922.|
|Israel||RHT||LHT||Under British rule until 1948; The Jerusalem Light Rail uses RHT.|
|Italy||RHT||1924–26||LHT||Until 1927 the countryside was RHT while cities were LHT. Rome changed to RHT in 1924 and Milan in 1926. Alfa Romeo and Lancia did produce LHD cars until as late as 1950 and 1953 respectively only to special order, as many drivers favoured the RHD layout even in RHT as this offered the driver a clearer view of the edge of the road in mountainous regions at a time when many such roads lacked barriers or walls. |
While the Rome Metro uses LHT, the metro systems in Brescia, Genoa, Milan, and Turin use RHT, as well as all tram systems.
|Japan||LHT||LHT||Post-World War II Okinawa was ruled by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands and was RHT. It was returned to Japan in 1972 but did not convert back to LHT until 1978. The conversion operation was known as 730 (Nana-San-Maru, which refers to the date of the changeover, 30 July). Okinawa is one of few places to have changed from RHT to LHT in the late 20th century. The Hakone Ropeway uses RHT.|
|Jordan||RHT||RHT, despite the Mandate for Palestine and the Transjordan memorandum being under British rule until 1946.|
|Kenya||LHT||RHT/LHT||British colony until 1963.|
|North Korea||RHT||1946||LHT/RHT||Korea had been LHT because of the influence of Japan in the 1900s. Switched to RHT under Soviet and American occupation after 1945. |
The metro system in Pyongyang uses RHT.
|South Korea||RHT||1946||LHT/RHT||Korea had been LHT because of the influence of Japan in the 1900s. Switched to RHT under Soviet and American occupation after 1945. |
Most metro systems in South Korea use RHT (exceptions include lines 1 and 4 of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, the Bundang Line, and the Shinbundang Line).
|Kyrgyzstan||RHT||RHT||Former part of RHT Soviet Union. In 2012, over 20,000 cheaper used RHD cars were imported from Japan.|
|Laos||RHT||LHT||RHT implemented while part of French Indochina.|
|Lebanon||RHT||Former French mandate.|
|Malawi||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Malaysia||LHT||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Maldives||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Malta||LHT||British colony until 1964.|
|Marshall Islands||RHT||Was being under American rule.|
|Mauritania||RHT||Mining roads between Fderîck and Zouérat are LHT.|
|Mauritius||LHT||Former British colony. Island nation.|
|Micronesia||RHT||Was being under American rule. Nearly 80% vehicles are RHD due to the import of used cars from Japan.|
|Myanmar||RHT||1970||LHT||Much of infrastructure still geared to LHT, most cars are used RHD vehicles, imported from Japan.|
|Netherlands||RHT||1906||RHT||Rotterdam was LHT until 1917. Includes Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba|
|Namibia||LHT||1918||RHT as a German colony. After South Africa occupied German South-West Africa during World War I, switched to LHT. South-West Africa was made a South African mandate by the League of Nations, and the new rule of the road was established in law.|
|New Zealand||LHT||LHT||Includes territories Niue and Cook Islands|
|Nigeria||RHT||1972||LHT||Former British colony. Switched to RHT as it is surrounded by former French RHT colonies. Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) warned operators of RHD vehicles that they would face prosecution under Section 71 of the National Road Traffic Regulation (2004), which states that no RHD vehicle shall be registered or driven on public roads.|
|Oman||RHT||Not a party to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and bans all foreign-registered RHD vehicles.|
|Pakistan||LHT||LHT||Was part of undivided India|
|Palau||RHT||Most cars are used RHD vehicles, imported from Japan because it's a second Japanese-speaking country.|
|Papua New Guinea||LHT||After Australia occupied German New Guinea during World War I, switched to LHT.|
|Philippines||RHT||1946||RHT||Was LHT during the Spanish and American colonial periods. Switched to RHT during Battle of Manila in 1945. Philippine National Railways switched to RHT in 2010.|
|Poland||RHT||RHT||Partitions of Poland belonging to the German Empire and the Russian Empire were RHT. Partitions that were part of Austria-Hungary were LHT and changed to RHT in the 1920s.|
|Portugal||RHT||1928||LHT||Colonies Goa, Macau and Mozambique, which had land borders with LHT countries, did not switch and continue to drive on the left. The Porto Metro uses RHT.|
|Romania||RHT||RHT||Transylvania, the Banat and Bukovina were until 1919 LHT like most of former Austria-Hungary, while Wallachia and Moldavia were already RHT.|
|Russia||RHT||RHT||In the Russian Far East RHD vehicles are common due to the import of used cars from nearby Japan. Railway between Moscow and Ryazan, Sormovskaya line in Nizhny Novgorod Metro and Moskva River cable car use LHT.|
|Rwanda||RHT||Former Belgian mandate. Considering switching to LHT like its neighbours Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Saint Lucia||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Samoa||LHT||2009||Switched to LHT to allow for cheaper importation of cars from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||RHT||1928||Originally LHT, like its colonial power Portugal. Switched to RHT with Portugal in 1928.|
|Saudi Arabia||RHT||LHT/RHT||The Makkah Metro and the Riyadh Metro use RHT.|
|Serbia||RHT||RHT||Vojvodina was LHT while part of Austria-Hungary.|
|Seychelles||LHT||Former British colony. Island nation.|
|Sierra Leone||RHT||1971||Former British colony. Switched to RHT as it is surrounded by former French RHT colonies. Importation of RHD vehicles was banned in 2013.|
|Singapore||LHT||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Slovakia||RHT||1939–41||RHT||Was LHT like most of former Austria-Hungary. Switched to RHT when it became a client state of Nazi Germany.|
|Slovenia||RHT||LHT||Was LHT like most of Austria-Hungary. Switched to RHT to unite with Croatia-Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro to form with Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Railways at the Zidani Most - Dobova line and Hungary border area use RHT.|
|South Africa||LHT||LHT||Former British colony.|
|South Sudan||RHT||1973||Was LHT during the period of British colonial rule. Split from Sudan in 2011 after the majority of the population voted for independence.|
|Spain||RHT||1924||RHT||Up to the 1920s Barcelona was RHT, and Madrid was LHT until 1924. While the Barcelona Metro uses RHT, the metro systems in Madrid and Bilbao use LHT.|
|Sri Lanka||LHT||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Sudan||RHT||1973||Former British colony. Switched to RHT as it is surrounded by neighboring RHT countries.|
|Sweden||RHT||3 September 1967||LHT||The day of the switch was known as Dagen H. Most passenger cars were already LHD. The tram systems in Gothenburg (except for a short part), Norrköping and Stockholm are RHT. The railroads (and the metro) use LHT in general, but in Malmö they use RHT due to the connection to Denmark.|
|Switzerland||RHT||LHT||The Lausanne Metro and railways at the Germany border area use RHT as well as all tram systems.|
|Taiwan||RHT||1946||LHT||Was LHT during the period of Japanese rule. The government of the Republic of China changed Taiwan to RHT in 1946 along with the rest of China. Most metro systems use RHT.|
|Thailand||LHT||LHT||One of the few LHT countries not a former British colony. Shares long land border with RHT Laos and Cambodia.|
|Trinidad and Tobago||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Tunisia||RHT||LHT||French RHT was enforced in the French protectorate of Tunisia from 1881.|
|Turkey||RHT||RHT||The Istanbul Metrobus uses LHT.|
|Tuvalu||LHT||Former British colony.|
|Ukraine||RHT||1922||RHT||West Ukraine was LHT, like most of former Austria-Hungary. Carpathian Ruthenia remained LHT as part of Czechoslovakia before switching in 1941 as part of Hungary. The rest of Ukraine, having been part of the Russian Empire, already drove on the right.|
Some sections of Kryvyi Rih Metrotram use LHT due to tramcars have doors only on right side, which makes it impossible to use RHT at stations with island platforms.
|United Arab Emirates||RHT||RHT|
(Gibraltar, British Indian Ocean Territory)
|LHT||Includes Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands (unregistered), Turks and Caicos Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha are all LHT. Gibraltar has been RHT since 1929 because of its land border with Spain. The British Indian Ocean Territory is the only other overseas territory driving on the right. The Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) drove on the right under German occupation until their liberation in 1945. The Falkland Islands similarly drove on the right during their occupation by Argentina in 1982. Virtually all passenger vehicles in British Virgin Islands as well as in Cayman Islands are LHD due to grey imports of used cars from the US and South Korea.|
(U.S. Virgin Islands)
|RHT/LHT||American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico is RHT. U.S. Virgin Islands, like much of the Caribbean, is LHT and is the only American jurisdiction that still has LHT, because the islands drove on the left when the US purchased the former Danish West Indies from Denmark in 1917 (known as the Treaty of the Danish West Indies.) However, virtually all passenger vehicles are LHD due to imports of US vehicles.|
|Uruguay||RHT||1945||LHT||Became LHT in 1918, but as in some other countries in South America, changed to RHT on 2 September 1945. A speed limit of 30 km/h (19 mph) was observed until 30 September for safety.|
|Vatican City||RHT||LHT||Same as Rome, of which it is an enclave.|
|Venezuela||RHT||LHT||Most metro systems use RHT.|
|Vietnam||RHT||LHT||Became RHT as French Indochina.|
|Yemen||RHT||1977||South Yemen, formerly the British colony of Aden, changed to RHT in 1977. A series of postage stamps commemorating the event was issued. North Yemen was already RHT.|
|Zimbabwe||LHT||LHT||Former British colony. In 2010, the government attempted to ban LHD vehicles.|
Most countries in Europe have RHT for trains. UK and Ireland have LHT for both road and rail. Some have RHT for roads but LHT for trains: Belgium, France, Italy, Monaco, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. France is mainly LHT for trains, except in Alsace-Lorraine which belonged to Germany when railways were built. Some border areas might diverge from their country due to suitable locations of flyover bridges, like all of Malmö in Sweden.
Metros are in general isolated with varying standards. Their side of operation vary, sometimes also between cities in one country, and might not match railways or roads in their country. Thus, in Madrid, Rome, Lyon, Buenos Aires, Lima, Stockholm and Lisbon metros use LHT, despite the roads being RHT. Some metros have a lines, which traffic is not matches with the other lines of those metros (for example, Ma On Shan line in Hong Kong MTR, Sormovskaya line in Nizhny Novgorod metro and lines 1 and 4 in Seoul subway). Most trains in mainland China drive on the left side of the track, but metros drive on the right due to their independence to general tracks.
Vehicles entering and leaving Macau cross over each other at the Lotus Bridge.
- Bidirectional traffic
- Hook turn
- Traffic-light signalling and operation
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"Art. 31. São obrigações communs a todos os conductores de vehiculos: a) conservar sua direita, trafegando o mais proximo possivel da beira da estrada, e sempre deixando a seu lado esquerdo espaço livre para passagem dos vehiculos que tiverem de passar á frente ou que transitarem em senttido contrario." (Translation: article 31: The common obligations to vehicle drivers are; a) Keep to the right, driving the closest as possible to the roadside, letting their left side free for vehicles overtaking or for oncoming traffic.), the first nationwide traffic legislation, cited unambiguously RHT as the standard for the country.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Right- and left-hand traffic.|
- Google Maps placemarks of border crossings where traffic changes sides (browser-based), also available as a Google Earth placemarks file (requires Google Earth)
- The Extraordinary Street Railways of Asunción, Paraguay