Experts from car hire company StressFreeCarRental.com have researched and revealed the reasons behind the difference in British and European road rules.
Widely recognised as the first car, The Model T was designed to be driven on the right-hand side of the road, meaning countries without road rules or a large road system made their roads fit the car.
However, in Britain, cities had been designed to accommodate left hand turning meaning it would be difficult to switch sides.
A spokesperson for StressFreeCarRental.com said: “There are many differences between our road rules and those we need to follow when in Europe, but often these differences aren’t questioned.
“It can seem like as long as there have been roads we’ve been driving on the left and Europeans on the right, but there must have been a reason for this.
“We have our ancestors to thank for some of the differences, but also the difference in culture and governing.”
1. Side of the road
The main difference when driving in Europe is that you drive on the right side of the road, as opposed to the left side of the road when in Britain. There are many schools of thinking about why this may be, but it’s thought we drive on the left due to London being designed to accommodate left-hand driving. Europeans may have been influenced by what many consider to be the first car, The Model T, which was designed with the driver on the left meaning it should be driven on the right-hand side of the road.
2. Driver’s position
Where the driver is sitting changes due to the side of the road which is driven. Front passengers should always be on the side closest to the pavement when the car is moving meaning passengers in both the front and back can exit onto the curb – as was done on the Model T. It can be assumed that in the interest of safety the same rules still apply now.
Speed is measured in miles per hour (mph) when in Britain and this changes to kilometres per hour (km/h) when in Europe. It seems that it’s a hangover here in Britain from when we went from imperial to metric units – we’re the only country in Europe to measure speed by mph!
Whereas in the UK the fast lanes are the inner lanes on the right and you also overtake to the right, the is reversed in Europe. The fast lanes are those on the left, meaning you need to check your mirrors and indicate left when you want to overtake.
This is not the only difference, with German autobahns famously having no speed limit. This has been put down to a gentlemen’s agreement between the German government and car producers. If the producers limited their cars to 250km/h the speed limit would be removed.