The historical practice of driving on the left side of the road, prevalent in countries once under British rule like Pakistan and India, has a fascinating origin. It harks back to an era when horseback travel was the norm, and this left-side preference was the most practical choice.
In a world where self-defense was often paramount, people tended to keep their right hand, typically the dominant one, free and ready for action. By traveling on the left side of the road, they ensured their right side was closer to potential adversaries or oncoming riders, enabling a quicker and more effective response if the need arose.
The choice to favor the left side wasn’t just about personal safety but also had practical advantages. With a predominant right-handed population, it made sense to have the right hand free for actions like drawing weapons or greeting others, while the left side was used for the horse’s reins and controlling the animal. This practice extended to carriages and early automobiles when they were introduced.
Additionally, by keeping the scabbard, typically worn on the left side, away from others on the road, the likelihood of accidents or altercations was reduced.
Over time, as motor vehicles became prevalent and road rules were standardized, many countries switched to driving on the right for various reasons, including improving traffic flow and road safety. However, some former British colonies, like India and Pakistan, retained the left-side tradition, offering a unique and historical aspect to their modern-day road systems.