Left- and right-hand traffic

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Countries by handedness of road traffic, c. 2019
Left-hand traffic
Right-hand traffic Countries driving on the left or right.svg
Countries by handedness of road traffic, c. 2019
  Left-hand traffic
  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. [1]

Bidirectional traffic two streams of traffic that flow in opposite directions

In transportation infrastructure, a bidirectional traffic system divides travelers into two streams of traffic that flow in opposite directions.

In mathematics and transportation engineering, traffic flow is the study of interactions between travellers and infrastructure, with the aim of understanding and developing an optimal transport network with efficient movement of traffic and minimal traffic congestion problems.


RHT is used in 165 countries and territories, with the remaining 75 countries and territories using LHT. [2] Countries that use LHT account for about a sixth of the world's area with about a third of its population and a quarter of its roads. [3] 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. [4]

Many LHT countries were formerly part of the British Empire, although some were not, such as Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Suriname. Conversely, many RHT countries were part of the French colonial empire.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

French colonial empire Set of territories that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s

The French colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies, protectorates and mandate territories that came under French rule from the 16th century onward. A distinction is generally made between the "first colonial empire," that existed until 1814, by which time most of it had been lost, and the "second colonial empire", which began with the conquest of Algiers in 1830. The second colonial empire came to an end after the loss in later wars of Indochina (1954) and Algeria (1962), and relatively peaceful decolonizations elsewhere after 1960.

For rail transport, 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.[ citation needed ]

Rail transport Conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks

Rail transport or train transport is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles run on a prepared flat surface, rail vehicles are directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. Tracks usually consist of steel rails, installed on ties (sleepers) set in ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves. Other variations are also possible, such as slab track. This is where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface.

Boats are traditionally piloted from starboard to facilitate priority to the right Riverine Patrol Boat Cockpit Console.jpg
Boats are traditionally piloted from starboard to facilitate priority to the right

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. [5]

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs) are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and set out, among other things, the "rules of the road" or navigation rules to be followed by ships and other vessels at sea to prevent collisions between two or more vessels. COLREGs can also refer to the specific political line that divides inland waterways, which are subject to their own navigation rules, and coastal waterways which are subject to international navigation rules. The COLREGs are derived from a multilateral treaty called the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) are rules prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governing all aviation activities in the United States. The FARs are part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). A wide variety of activities are regulated, such as aircraft design and maintenance, typical airline flights, pilot training activities, hot-air ballooning, lighter-than-air aircraft, man-made structure heights, obstruction lighting and marking, and even model rocket launches, model aircraft operation, sUAS & Drone operation, and kite flying. The rules are designed to promote safe aviation, protecting pilots, flight attendants, passengers and the general public from unnecessary risk. Since 1958, these rules have typically been referred to as "FARs", short for Federal Aviation Regulations. However, another set of regulations is titled "Federal Acquisitions Regulations", and this has led to confusion with the use of the acronym "FAR". Therefore, the FAA began to refer to specific regulations by the term "14 CFR part XX".

In LHT vehicles keep left, and cars are RHD (right-hand drive) with the steering wheel on the right-hand side and the driver sitting on the offside or side closest to the center of the road. The passenger sits on the nearside, closest to the curb. Roundabouts circulate clockwise. In RHT everything is reversed: cars keep right, the driver sits on the left side of the car, and roundabouts circulate counterclockwise.

Roundabout Traffic intersection

A roundabout is a type of circular intersection or junction in which road traffic is permitted to flow in one direction around a central island, and priority is typically given to traffic already in the junction.



Border between Sweden and Norway in 1934 Danish motorcyclists about to cross the border between Sweden and Norway in 1934.png
Border between Sweden and Norway in 1934
Traffic moves from left to right in Stockholm, Sweden, on 3 September 1967 Kungsgatan 1967.jpg
Traffic moves from left to right in Stockholm, Sweden, on 3 September 1967
A sign in Dublin Airport reminding visiting motorists to drive on the left Drive on Left sign, Dublin Airport, August 2019.jpg
A sign in Dublin Airport reminding visiting motorists to drive on the left

Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman troops kept to the left when marching. [6] In 1998, archaeologists found a well-preserved double track leading to a Roman quarry near Swindon, in southern England. The grooves in the road were much deeper on the left side when facing away from the quarry than those on the right side. This suggests LHT at this location, since carts would exit the quarry heavily loaded and enter it empty. [7] In the year 1300, Pope Boniface VIII directed pilgrims to keep left. [6]

The first reference in English law to LHT was in 1756, with regard to London Bridge. [8]

After the French Revolution, all traffic in France kept right. [8]

Rotterdam was LHT until 1917, [9] although the rest of the Netherlands was RHT.

Russia completely switched to RHT in the last days of the Tsars in February 1917.

After the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up, the resulting countries gradually changed to RHT. In Austria, Vorarlberg switched in 1921, North Tyrol in 1930, Carinthia and East Tyrol in 1935, and the rest of the country in 1938. [10] In Romania, Transylvania, the Banat and Bukovina were LHT until 1919, while Wallachia and Moldavia were already RHT. Partitions of Poland belonging to the German Empire and the Russian Empire were RHT, while the Austrian Partition changed in the 1920s [11] Croatia-Slavonia switched on joining the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918, although Istria and Dalmatia were already RHT. [12] Nazi Germany introduced the switch in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia in 1938–1939. [13] [14] West Ukraine was LHT, but the rest of Ukraine, having been part of the Russian Empire, was RHT.

In Italy, the countryside was RHT while cities were LHT until 1927. [15] Rome changed to RHT in 1924 and Milan in 1926. However, the Rome Metro, built in 1955, uses LHT. Alfa Romeo and Lancia produced RHD cars to special order until 1950 and 1953 respectively; many drivers preferred RHD even in RHT, as it offered the driver a clearer view of the edges of mountain roads that lacked barriers. [16]

Portugal switched to RHT in 1928.

Finland, formerly part of LHT Sweden, switched to RHT in 1858 as the Grand Duchy of Finland by Russian decree. [17]

Sweden switched to RHT in 1967. It was LHT from about 1734 [18] despite having land borders with RHT countries, and approximately 90% of cars being left-hand drive (LHD). [19] A referendum in 1955 overwhelmingly rejected a change to RHT but years later the government ordered it, and it occurred on Sunday, 3 September 1967 [20] at 5 am. The accident rate then dropped sharply, [21] but soon rose to near its original level. [22] The day was known as Högertrafikomläggningen or Dagen H for short. When Iceland switched the following year, it was known as Hægri dagurinn or H-dagurinn . [23] Most passenger cars in Iceland were already LHD.

The United Kingdom is LHT, but its overseas territories of Gibraltar and British Indian Ocean Territory are RHT. 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. [24] Road building standards, for motorways in particular, allow asymmetrically designed road junctions, where merge and diverge lanes differ in length. [25]

Today, four countries in Europe continue to use LHT, all island nations and formerly parts of the British Empire: the UK (including Northern Ireland), Cyprus, Republic of Ireland, and Malta.


Southern African Development Community LHT roundabout sign SADC road sign R137.svg
Southern African Development Community LHT roundabout sign
RHT roundabout sign SADC road sign R137-RHT.svg
RHT roundabout sign

Egypt was conquered by Napoleon and it kept RHT even after it became a British dependency.

LHT was introduced in British West Africa. All of the countries formerly part of this colony border with former French RHT jurisdictions and have switched to RHT since decolonization. These include Ghana, Gambia, [26] Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Britain introduced LHT to the East Africa Protectorate (now Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), Rhodesia, and the Cape Colony (now Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa). All of these have remained LHT. Sudan, formerly part of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan switched to RHT in 1973, as it is surrounded by neighbouring RHT countries.

The Portuguese Empire, then LHT, introduced LHT to Portuguese Mozambique and Portuguese Angola. Although Portugal itself switched to RHT in 1928, these territories remained LHT as they have land borders with former British colonies. Other former Portuguese colonies in Africa including Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Cape Verde switched to RHT in 1928.

France introduced RHT in French West Africa and the Maghreb, where it is still used. Countries in this former colony include Mali, Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Other French former colonies that are RHT include Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo.

Rwanda and Burundi, former Belgian colonies in Central Africa, are RHT but are considering switching to LHT [27] [28] like neighbouring members of the East African Community (EAC). [29] A survey in 2009 found that 54% of Rwandans favoured the switch. Reasons cited were the perceived lower costs of RHD vehicles, easier maintenance and the political benefit of harmonious traffic regulations with other EAC countries. The survey indicated that RHD cars were 16% to 49% cheaper than their LHD counterparts. [30] In 2014, an internal report by consultants to the Ministry of Infrastructure recommended a switch to LHT. [31] In 2015, the ban on RHD vehicles was lifted; RHD trucks from neighbouring countries cost $1000 less than LHD models imported from Europe. [32] [33]

North America

Saint John, New Brunswick, circa 1898. Parts of Canada were LHT until the 1920s. Nb-stj-1899.jpg
Saint John, New Brunswick, circa 1898. Parts of Canada were LHT until the 1920s.

In what is now Canada, LHT was introduced by the British in British Columbia, which changed to RHT in stages from 1920 to 1923, [34] [35] and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, which changed in 1922, 1923, and 1924 respectively. [36] Newfoundland, then a British colony, [37] changed to RHT in 1947, two years before joining Canada. [38] Former parts of New France have always been RHT. [39]

In the early years of British colonisation of North America in 18th century, British driving customs were followed and the original Thirteen Colonies drove on the left. After declaring independence from the United Kingdom in 4 July 1776, however, they were anxious to cast off all remaining links with their British colonial past and gradually changed to right-hand driving, influenced by a number of factors, including gratitude for French help in the War of Independence, the views of those Americans with roots in continental Europe and specifically the influence of General Lafayette, the French liberal reformer. Incidentally, the influence of other European immigrants, especially the French, should not be underestimated.

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. [40] The first keep-right law for driving in the United States was passed in 1792 and applied to the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike. [41] New York formalized RHT in 1804, New Jersey in 1813 and Massachusetts in 1821. [42] Today the United States is RHT except the United States Virgin Islands, [43] which is LHT like many neighboring islands.

Some postal service vehicles, garbage trucks, many parking enforcement vehicles and uncommon specialty vehicles in the United States are still being RHD.

In the West Indies, colonies and territories drive on the same side as their parent countries, except for the United States Virgin Islands. Many of the island nations are former British colonies and drive on the left, including Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas.


Vehicles entering and leaving Macau cross over each other at the Lotus Bridge. Lotus-bridge-macau.jpg
Vehicles entering and leaving Macau cross over each other at the Lotus Bridge.

LHT was introduced by the British in British India (now India, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh), British Malaya (now Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore), and British Hong Kong. All are still LHT except Myanmar, which switched to RHT in 1970, [44] although much of its infrastructure still geared to LHT. Most cars are used RHD vehicles imported from Japan. [45] Afghanistan was LHT until the 1950s, in line with neighbouring British India and later Pakistan. [46]

LHT was introduced by the Portuguese Empire in Portuguese Macau (now Macau) and Portuguese Timor (now East Timor). Both places are still LHT, despite Macau now being part of RHT China, requiring a right-to-left switching interchange at the Lotus Bridge which connects the two. East Timor shares the island of Timor with Indonesia, which is also LHT, although the former (then Portuguese Timor) switched to RHT along with Portugal in 1928 [1] before changing back to LHT in 1976 during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

China is RHT except the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. LHT was uniform in the 1930s, then the northern provinces were RHT. Nationalist China adopted RHT in 1946. This convention was preserved when the CCP took the mainland and the KMT retreated to Taiwan.

Both North Korea and South Korea switched to RHT in 1945 after liberation from Japanese colonial power.[ citation needed ]

The Philippines was mostly LHT during its Spanish [47] and American colonial periods, [48] [49] as well as during the Commonwealth era. [50] During the Japanese occupation, the Philippines remained LHT, [51] also because LHT had been required by the Japanese; [52] but during the Battle of Manila, the liberating American forces drove their tanks to the right for easier facilitation of movement. RHT was formalised in 1945. [53]

Japan was never part of the British Empire, but its traffic also goes to the left. Although the origin of this habit goes back to the Edo period (1603-1868), it was not until 1872 that this unwritten rule became more or less official. That was the year when Japan’s first railway was introduced, built with technical aid from the British. Gradually, a massive network of railways and tram tracks was built, and of course all trains and trams drove on the left-hand side. Still, it took another half century till in 1924 left-side driving was clearly written in a law. In Japan, 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. [54] 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 1900s.

Vietnam became RHT as part of French Indochina, as did Cambodia. In the latter country, RHD cars, many of which were smuggled from Thailand, were banned from 2001, even though they accounted for 80% of vehicles in the country. [55]


A sign reminding motorists to keep left in Australia. Drive on left in australia.jpg
A sign reminding motorists to keep left in Australia.

Many former British colonies in the region have always been LHT, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu, as well as nations which were previously administered by Australia, being Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Samoa, a former German colony, had been RHT for more than a century. It switched to LHT in 2009, [56] being the first territory in almost 30 years to switch. [57] 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 by the group People Against Switching Sides (PASS) to try to protest against the change, with the latter launching a legal challenge, [58] and in April 2008 an estimated 18,000 people attended demonstrations against it. [59] 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. [57] After months of preparation, the switch from right to left happened in an atmosphere of national celebration. There were no reported incidents. [3] 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. [56] The change coincided with more restrictive enforcement of speeding and seat-belt laws. [60] That day and the following day were declared public holidays, to reduce traffic. [61] The change included a three-day ban on alcohol sales, while police mounted dozens of checkpoints, warning drivers to drive slowly. [3]

South America

Brazil was a colony of Portugal until the early 19th century and during this century and the early 20th century had mixed rules, with some regions still on LHT, switching these remaining regions to RHT in 1928, the same year Portugal switched sides. [62] Other Central and South American countries that later switched from LHT to RHT include Argentina, Chile, Panama, [63] Paraguay, [64] and Uruguay.

Suriname, along with neighbouring Guyana, are the only two remaining LHT countries in South America. [65]

Changing sides at borders

Traffic Switchover sign at the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge Laos - Traffic Switchover Point.svg
Traffic Switchover sign at the Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge

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, and 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. [66]

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. [67] 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.

The Takutu River Bridge (which links LHT Guyana and RHT Brazil [68] ) is the only border in the Americas where traffic changes sides.

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. [69]

Most windshield wipers are designed to clear the driver's side better and have a longer blade on the driver's side [70] and wipe up from the passenger side to the driver's side. Thus on LHD configurations, they wipe up from right to left, viewed from inside the vehicle, and do the opposite on RHD vehicles.

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. [41] In 1908 Henry Ford standardised the Model T as LHD in RHT America, [41] 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." [71] By 1915 other manufacturers followed Ford's lead, due to the popularity of the Model T. [41]

In specialised cases, the driver will sit on the nearside, or kerbside. Examples include:

Generally, the convention is to mount a motorcycle on the left, [73] and kickstands are usually on the left [74] which makes it more convenient to mount on the safer kerbside [74] as is the case in LHT. Some jurisdictions prohibit fitting a sidecar to a motorcycle's offside. [75] [76]

Headlamps and other lighting equipment

Bird's-eye view of low beam light pattern for RH traffic, with long seeing range on the right and short cutoff on the left so oncoming drivers are not dazzled. Low beam light pattern for right-hand traffic.svg
Bird's-eye view of low beam light pattern for RH traffic, with long seeing range on the right and short cutoff on the left so oncoming drivers are not dazzled.

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, [77] :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. [77] :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. [77] :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.[ citation needed ]

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. [78]

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. [79]

Rail traffic

Trains use right-hand track
Trains use left-hand track
Rail traffic is mixed or lacking Rail handedness by country.svg
  Trains use right-hand track
  Trains use left-hand track
  Rail traffic is mixed or lacking

In most countries, rail traffic travels on the same side as road traffic. However, in many cases railways were built, often using LHT British technology, and road traffic switched to RHT while rail remained LHT. Examples include: Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Egypt, France, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Laos, Monaco, Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, Portugal, Senegal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Venezuela, and Yemen. In Indonesia it is the reverse (RHT for rails (even for LRT systems) and LHT for roads). France is mainly LHT for trains, except for the classic lines in Alsace-Lorraine [80] which belonged to Germany when the railways were built before 1918, along with most metro systems. China is basically LHT for long-distance trains and RHT for metro systems. Spain, which is RHT for railways has LHT for metros in Madrid and Bilbao. Metros and light rail sides of operation vary, and might not match railways or roads in their country. Trams generally operate at the same side as a road traffic due to a common sections with roads.

Worldwide distribution by country

Countries with left- and right-hand traffic, currently and formerly. Changes since 1858 when Finland changed to the right are taken into account.

Now RHT, formerly LHT
Now LHT, formerly RHT
Formerly a mix of LHT and RHT in various parts of the country, now RHT Driving standards historic.png
Countries with left- and right-hand traffic, currently and formerly. Changes since 1858 when Finland changed to the right are taken into account.
  Now RHT, formerly LHT
  Now LHT, formerly RHT
  Formerly a mix of LHT and RHT in various parts of the country, now RHT

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 are counted as one. Whichever directionality is listed first is the type that is used in general in the traffic category.

CountryRoad trafficRoad switched sidesNotes, exceptions
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan RHT
Flag of Albania.svg  Albania RHT [81]
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria RHT [82] French Algeria until 1962.
Flag of Andorra.svg  Andorra RHT [83] Landlocked between France and Spain.
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola RHT [84] 1928Portuguese colony until 1975.
Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg  Antigua and Barbuda LHT [85] British colony until 1958. Caribbean island.
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina RHT1945The anniversary on 10 June is still observed each year as Día de la Seguridad Vial (road safety day). [86]
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia RHT [87]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia LHTBritish colonies before 1901. Continent is one nation. Includes Norfolk Island.
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria RHT1921–38
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan RHT
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas LHT [65] British colony before 1973. Caribbean island.
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain RHT1967Former British protectorate. Switched to same side as neighbours. [88]
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh LHTPart of British India before 1947.
Flag of Barbados.svg  Barbados LHTBritish colony before 1966. Caribbean archipelagic state.
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium RHT1899 [89]
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus RHT [90]
Flag of Belize.svg  Belize RHT1961 [1] Former British colony. Switched to same side as neighbours.
Flag of Benin.svg  Benin RHTPart of French West Africa before 1960.
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan LHTUnder British protection before 1949.
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia RHT
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina RHT1918Switched sides after the collapse of Austria-Hungary.
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana LHT
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil RHT1928
Flag of Brunei.svg  Brunei LHTUK protection until 1984.
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria RHT
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso RHTPart of French West Africa before 1958.
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi RHTBelgian colony before 1962.
Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia RHT
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon RHT1961
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada RHT1920–24
Flag of Cape Verde.svg  Cape Verde RHT1928Portuguese colony until 1975.
Flag of the Central African Republic.svg  Central African Republic RHTFrench colony before 1960.
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad RHTFrench colony before 1960.
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile RHT1920s
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China RHT/LHT1946RHT in the Mainland, whereas Hong Kong and Macau are LHT due to their colonial heritage.
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia RHT
Flag of the Comoros.svg  Comoros RHTFrench colony before 1975.
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Congo RHTFrench colony before 1960.
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo RHTBelgian colony before 1960.
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica RHT
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Ivory Coast RHTPart of French West Africa before 1960.
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia RHT1926(as part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes)
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba RHT
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus LHTUnder UK administration before 1960. Island nation.
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic RHT1939Switched during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark RHTIncludes Faroe Islands and Greenland
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti RHT
Flag of Dominica.svg  Dominica LHTBritish colony before 1978. Caribbean island.
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic RHT
Flag of East Timor.svg  East Timor LHT1976Portuguese colony until 1975. Switched to RHT with Portugal in 1928; under the Indonesian annexation, it was switched back to LHT in 1976.
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador RHT
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt RHT
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador RHT
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea RHT
Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea RHT1964Italian colony before 1942.
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia RHT
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Eswatini (Swaziland)LHTFormer British colony. Continues to drive on the same side as neighboring countries.
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia RHT1964
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji LHTBritish colony before 1970. Island nation.
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland RHT1858
Flag of France.svg  France RHT1792Includes French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Guiana, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy, Collectivity of Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, Mayotte.
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon RHT
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia RHT1965British colony until 1965. Switched to RHT being surrounded by neighboring former French colonies.
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia RHTAbout 40% vehicles in Georgia are RHD due to the low cost of used cars imported from Japan. [91]
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany RHT [92]
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana RHT1974British colony until 1957. Ghana switched to RHT in 1974, [93] [94] a Twi language slogan was "Nifa, Nifa Enan" or "Right, Right, Fourth". [95] Ghana has also banned RHD vehicles. Ghana prohibited new registrations of RHD vehicles after 1 August 1974, three days before the traffic change.
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece RHT
Flag of Grenada.svg  Grenada LHTBritish colony before 1974. Caribbean island.
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala RHT
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea RHT
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau RHT1928Portuguese colony until 1974.
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana LHTBritish colony until 1970. One of the few countries in continental Americas are in LHT.
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti RHT
Flag of the Vatican City.svg  Holy See RHTEnclave of Rome.
Flag of Honduras.svg  Honduras RHT
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary RHT1941Originally LHT, like most of Austria-Hungary, but switched sides during the second world war.
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland RHT1968
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran RHT
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq RHT
Flag of India.svg  India LHTPart of British India before 1947.
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia LHT [96] Roads and railways were built by the Dutch, with LHT for roads to conform to British and Japanese standards and RHT for railways. The Jakarta MRT and Palembang LRT also use RHT.
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland LHTPart of the United Kingdom before 1922.
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel RHT
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy RHT1924–26
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica LHTBritish colony before 1962. Caribbean island.
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan LHT [97]
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan RHT
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan RHT
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya LHT [98] Part of the British East Africa Protectorate before 1963.
Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati LHTUK colony before 1979. Pacific islands.
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea RHT1946Was LHT during the period of Japanese rule. Switched to RHT after Surrender of Japan.
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea RHT1946
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo RHT
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait RHT
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan RHTIn 2012, over 20,000 cheaper used RHD cars were imported from Japan. [99]
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos RHTRHT implemented while part of French Indochina.
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia RHT
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon RHT French Mandate of Lebanon before 1946.
Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho LHTEnclave of LHT South Africa.
Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia RHT
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya RHT Italian Libya colony from 1911 to 1947.
Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein RHTLandlocked between Switzerland and Austria.
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania RHT
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg RHT
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar RHTFormer French colony.
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi LHTBritish colony before 1964.
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia LHTBritish colony before 1957.
Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives LHTBritish colony before 1965. Island nation.
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali RHTPart of French West Africa before 1960.
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta LHTBritish colony before 1964. Island nation.
Flag of the Marshall Islands.svg  Marshall Islands RHTWas being under American control.
Flag of Mauritania.svg  Mauritania RHTPart of French West Africa before 1960. Mining roads between Fderîck and Zouérat are LHT. [100]
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius LHTBritish colony before 1968. Island nation.
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico RHT
Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Federated States of Micronesia RHTWas being under American control.
Flag of Moldova.svg  Moldova RHT
Flag of Monaco.svg  Monaco RHTWas under French control.
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia RHT
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro RHT
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco RHTFormer French colony.
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique LHTPortuguese colony until 1975.
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar RHT1970Part of British India until 1948. Switched to RHT in 1970.
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands RHT1906 [101] Includes Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia LHT1918Administered by South Africa 1920-1990.
Flag of Nauru.svg  Nauru LHT1918Administered by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom until 1968. Island nation.
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal LHTLost the Anglo-Nepalese War with British India and shares land border with LHT India.
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand LHT [102] British colony before 1947. Pacific island, including territories Niue and Cook Islands
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua RHT
Flag of Niger.svg  Niger RHTPart of French West Africa before 1958.
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria RHT1972British colony until 1960. Switched to RHT being surrounded by neighboring former French colonies.
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia RHT
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway RHT
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman RHT [103]
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan LHTPart of British India before 1947.
Flag of Palau.svg  Palau RHT
Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestinian National Authority RHT
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama RHT1943
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea LHTAfter Australia occupied German New Guinea during World War I, switched to LHT.
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay RHT1945
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru RHT
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines RHT1946 [53] 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.
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland RHT
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal RHT [96] 1928Colonies Goa, Macau and Mozambique, which had land borders with LHT countries, did not switch and continue to drive on the left. [104] The Porto Metro uses RHT.
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar RHTFormer British protectorate. Switched to same side as neighbours.
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania RHT1919Parts of Romania that formerly belonged to Austria-Hungary (Transylvania, Bukovina, parts of the Banat, Crișana and Maramureș) were LHT until 1919.
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia RHTIn the Russian Far East RHD vehicles are common due to the import of used cars from nearby Japan. [105] Railway between Moscow and Ryazan, Sormovskaya line in Nizhny Novgorod Metro and Moskva River cable car use LHT.
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda RHT [27]
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Saint Kitts and Nevis LHTBritish colony before 1967. Caribbean island.
Flag of Saint Lucia.svg  Saint Lucia LHTBritish colony before 1979. Caribbean island.
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines LHTBritish colony before 1979. Caribbean island.
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa LHT2009Switched to LHT to allow for cheaper importation of cars from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. [96]
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino RHTEnclaved state surrounded by Italy.
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg  São Tomé and Príncipe RHT1928Portuguese colony until 1975.
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia RHT1942
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal RHTPart of French West Africa before 1960.
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia RHT1926(as part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), Vojvodina was LHT while part of Austria-Hungary.
Flag of the Seychelles.svg  Seychelles LHTBritish colony before 1976. Island nation.
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone RHT1971 [106] British colony until 1961. Switched to RHT being surrounded by neighboring former French colonies. Banned the importation of RHD vehicles in 2013. [107]
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore LHTBritish colony until 1963 and was part of Malaysia until 1965.
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia RHT1939–41Switched during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia RHT1926(as part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), officialy LHT from 1915 as part of Austria-Hungary.
Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg  Solomon Islands LHTBritish colony before 1975. Island nation.
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia RHTThe former British Somaliland had LHT until it formed a union with the former Italian Somaliland which had RHT.
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa LHT [108] [109] British colony before 1909.
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan RHT1973Then part of Sudan.
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain RHT1924Up to the 1920s Barcelona was RHT, and Madrid was LHT until 1924. The Madrid Metro still uses LHT.
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka LHT British Ceylon 1815-1948.
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan RHT1973Formerly Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname LHT1920sDutch colony until 1975. One of the few countries in continental Americas are in LHT.
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden RHT1967 (3 September)The day of the switch was known as Dagen H . Most passenger cars were already LHD.
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland RHT
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria RHTWas under French and Italian control.
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan RHT1946Was 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. [110]
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan RHT
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania LHTPart of the British East Africa Protectorate until 1961.
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand LHT [96] One of the few LHT countries not a former British colony. Shares long land border with RHT Myanmar Laos and Cambodia.
Flag of Togo.svg  Togo RHT
Flag of Tonga.svg  Tonga LHTBritish protectorate before 1970. Polynesian island nation.
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago LHT [111] British colony before 1962. Caribbean island.
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia RHTFrench RHT was enforced in the French protectorate of Tunisia from 1881.
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey RHT1920s
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan RHT
Flag of Tuvalu.svg  Tuvalu LHTBritish colony before 1974. Island nation.
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda LHTBritish Uganda Protectorate 1894-1962.
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine RHT1922 [11]
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates RHTFormer British protectorate. Switched to same side as neighbours.
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom LHT/RHT1929
(in Gibraltar)
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, Tristan da Cunha are all LHT. Gibraltar has been RHT since 1929 because of its land border with Spain. [112] 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 lasting from 1940 to 1945. [113]
Flag of the United States.svg  United States RHT/LHT 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 in the 1917 Treaty of the Danish West Indies.
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay RHT1945Became LHT in 1918, but as in some other countries in South America, changed to RHT on 2 September 1945. [114] A speed limit of 30 km/h (19 mph) was observed until 30 September for safety.
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan RHT
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu RHT [115] Co-administrated under France and United Kingdom until 1980.
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela RHT
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam RHTBecame RHT as French Indochina. The Long Bien Bridge uses LHT.
Flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.svg  Western Sahara RHTOccupied by Spain until the late 1900s.
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen RHT1977 [1] South Yemen, formerly the British colony of Aden, changed to RHT in 1977. A series of postage stamps commemorating the event was issued. [116] North Yemen was already RHT.
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia LHTBritish colony before 1964.
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe LHTBritish colony before 1965.

See also

Related Research Articles

Transport in Samoa

Transport in Samoa includes one international airport situated on the north west coast of Upolu island, paved highways reaching most parts of the two main islands, one main port in the capital Apia and two ports servicing mainly inter island ferries for vehicles and passengers between the two main islands, Upolu and Savai'i.

Driving operation of a vehicle

Driving is the controlled operation and movement of a motor vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, trucks, and buses. Permission to drive on public highways is granted based on a set of conditions being met and drivers are required to follow the established road and traffic laws in the location they are driving.

Windscreen wiper device on vehicle

A windshield wiper or windscreen wiper is a device used to remove rain, snow, ice and debris from a vehicle's front window. Almost all motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, train locomotives, and watercraft with a cabin—and some aircraft—are equipped with one or more such wipers, which are usually a legal requirement.

Headlamp vehicle lights

A headlamp is a lamp attached to the front of a vehicle to illuminate the road ahead. Headlamps are also often called headlights, but in the most precise usage, headlamp is the term for the device itself and headlight is the term for the beam of light produced and distributed by the device.

Dagen H Day in Sweden when the change from left-hand traffic to right-hand traffic occurred

Dagen H, today usually called "Högertrafikomläggningen", was the day on 3 September 1967, in which the traffic in Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right. The "H" stands for "Högertrafik", the Swedish word for "right traffic". It was by far the largest logistical event in Sweden's history.

Grey import vehicles are new or used motor vehicles and motorcycles legally imported from another country through channels other than the maker's official distribution system. The synonymous term parallel import is sometimes substituted.

Steering wheel type of steering control in vehicles and vessels (ships and boats)

A steering wheel is a type of steering control in vehicles.


Overtaking or passing is the act of one vehicle going past another slower moving vehicle, travelling in the same direction, on a road. The lane used for overtaking another vehicle is almost always a passing lane further from the road shoulder which is to the left in places that drive on the right and to the right in places that drive on the left.

Automotive lighting lighting system of a motor vehicle

The lighting system of a motor vehicle consists of lighting and signalling devices mounted or integrated to the front, rear, sides, and in some cases the top of a motor vehicle. This lights the roadway for the driver and increases the visibility of the vehicle, allowing other drivers and pedestrians to see a vehicle's presence, position, size, direction of travel, and the driver's intentions regarding direction and speed of travel. Emergency vehicles usually carry distinctive lighting equipment to warn drivers and indicate priority of movement in traffic.

World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations organization

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations is a working party (WP.29) of the Sustainable Transport Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Its responsibility is to manage the multilateral Agreements signed in 1958, 1997 and 1998 concerning the technical prescriptions for the construction, approval of wheeled vehicles as well as their Periodic Technical Inspection and, to operate within the framework of these three Agreements to develop and amend UN Regulations, UN Global Technical Regulations and UN Rules.

LHD can mean:

Driving in Singapore

In Singapore, cars and other vehicles drive on the left side of the road, as in neighbouring Malaysia, due to its British colonial history. As a result, most vehicles are right-hand drive. However, exemptions have been made to allow foreign vehicles and construction machineries to utilise the roadspace of Singapore. As such, vehicles with left hand drive configurations are required to either be driven with a sign indicating "LEFT-HAND-DRIVE" or towed.

Driving in the United Kingdom is governed by various legal powers and in some cases is subject to the passing of a driving test. The government produces a Highway Code that details the requirements for all road users, including drivers. Unlike most other countries in the world, the UK traffic drives on the left.

Japanese used vehicle exporting

Japanese used vehicle exporting is a grey market international trade involving the export of used cars and other vehicles from Japan to other markets around the world since the 1980s.

730 (transport) historical date in Okinawa

The 730 (Nana-San-Maru) was the day July 30, 1978, when Okinawa Prefecture of Japan switched back from driving on the right-hand side of the road to the left.

The turn indicator stalk or turn signal lever is the control lever which operates the turn signal or indicator lights on the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. It is usually operated by lifting or lowering the lever, the direction being commensurate with the clockwise or anticlockwise direction in which the steering wheel is about to be turned.

The road signs in Poland follow the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals and, therefore, are more or less identical to those in other European countries. Warning signs have yellow background rather than the more common black-on-white design, and therefore similar to the Road signs in Greece.

H-dagurinn or Hægri dagurinn on 26 May 1968 was the day that Iceland changed from left hand traffic to right hand traffic. The change itself occurred formally at 6:00 am.

Car controls car parts used to control the vehicle

Car controls are the components in automobiles and other powered road vehicles, such as trucks and buses, used for driving and parking.


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