Where Do People Use Right-Hand Drive Cars?

Most drivers in the United States aren’t familiar with right-hand drive cars. These would be vehicles with the driver’s seat on the right side of the cabin and are often seen in other countries overseas. However, one exception of right-hand drive cars in North America are United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) mail trucks. These vehicles are designed with right-hand drivers seats to allow the drivers to easily deposit mail in mailboxes on the right side of roads. This promotes convenience and car safety for mail truck operators. However, that begs the question: Where are right-side drive cars customarily found outside the U.S.?

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
The Honda Thats 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. Depending on the country you choose, you can import a right-hand drive car. However, if importing a right-hand drive vehicle is too complicated, conversion kits are available to swap the drive side. However, these conversion kits can often be rudimentary, costly, or both. Additionally, there isn’t a need for right-hand drive vehicles on American roadways, aside from mail carriers.

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. Common for many of those nations that require the steering wheel on the right side of a car cabin is a connection to the United Kingdom, according to Rhino Car Hire. If the country was a U.K. territory or colony in the past, the likelihood is high that right-hand driving practices are the norm.

Australia and New Zealand use 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 U.K. influence, as both nations were originally colonized by Great Britain in the 1800s, according to Teara.

Island nations drivers 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, according to Thomson Reuters Practical Law. 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 all have the requirements of right-sided steering 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, according to World Standards. So, the influence was nonetheless felt and eventually led to Japan becoming a right-hand drive nation. 

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 right-hand drive and left-hand drive systems is available on World Standards.

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