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Most drivers in the United States aren’t familiar with right-hand drive cars, save for enthusiasts. However, even with the rarity of a right-hand drive vehicle, they do find their way onto American roads. For instance, United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) mail trucks use the construction to give mail carriers access to mailboxes without disembarking their vehicles. However, some countries use right-hand drive cars and left-hand road orientation as the standard.

Outside of parcel delivery services and automotive collectors, there’s very little need to have a right-hand drive vehicle in the United States. Still, every once in a while, something on YouTube or television will have a right-hand drive car appear. So, where do these right-hand drive vehicles come from? What are the right-hand drive countries where motor vehicle operators drive on the left side of the road?

Right-hand drive cars are available in the United States

The interior of the Honda Thats, which features a right-side drivers seat for right-hand drive countries
A right-hand drive Honda’s interior | Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

The United States has left-hand drive vehicles to drive on the right side of the road. However, cars over 25 years old can be imported to the U.S. Still, if importing a right-hand drive vehicle is too complicated or pricey, model-specific conversion kits are available to swap the drive side. That said, these conversion kits can often be rudimentary, costly, or both. Additionally, driving a right-hand-oriented car in the United States makes visibility an issue. For instance, overtaking a vehicle on a two-lane road with a broken center line could be tricky if you can’t see around the slow-moving vehicle ahead of you.

However, in many other nations worldwide, you will find cars made for right-hand driving straight from the factory. Therefore, the integration of the driver’s seat and controls is proper and of high quality versus a conversion kit that might be dependent on the mechanical skill of the installer.

Drivers in Australia and New Zealand operate right-hand drive cars

Australia and New Zealand are nations that are famous for their car culture. According to World Standards, they are also renowned for having right-sided steering wheel vehicles and driving on the left side of the road. As mentioned before, this comes from their historic British influence, as both nations were originally colonized by Great Britain in the 1800s.

The Island nations of the Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman, and Fiji also drive on the left side of the road

The Bahamas, Barbados, Fiji, and the Cayman and Falkland Islands were all at one point British colonies or territories. As such, they also have adopted the right-hand drive/left-lane driving system as their own. Of the islands listed, only the Cayman and Falkland Islands are still British overseas territories.

India, Japan, Cyprus, South Africa, and Malta also have right-side, left-lane drivers

The nations of India, Japan, Cyprus, South Africa, and Malta mandate right-hand drive vehicles and left-lane driving. Interestingly, Japan has never been a part of British rule. However, the country received technical aid in building its railway infrastructure from Britain, per World Standards. So, the influence was nonetheless felt and eventually led to Japan implementing a left-hand-oriented road system.

In all, nearly a third of the world drives with a right-sided steering system and left-lane driving. Therefore, the list above is by no means comprehensive. It is a shortlist that only outlines a few of the larger nations or popular vacation destinations that support right-hand drive cars and vehicles. A fuller list and interactive map of countries with left-hand-oriented road systems is available on World Standards.

Would you cruise American roads in an import with the steering wheel on the other side? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!


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