Features » Motoring in Spain » The Car Clinic
DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE
Tony Banham (The Car Clinic) / 2011-03-12 09:20:22
I’m struggling here and if any one can help, please, please contact me and show me the light. Why is it so important NOT to use indicators in Spain?
All vehicles have them fitted, we are all taught to use them when learning to drive. So what went wrong? Maybe the problem lays further back than recent generations.
After all, this country had a mixed driving system up until April 1924. Driving on the right-hand side was most commonly practiced throughout Spain apart from Madrid. Where they all drove on the left!
So why do we drive on different sides of the road? It goes a little something like this… In 1998, archaeologists found a well-preserved track leading to a Roman quarry near Swindon.
The grooves in the road on the right side were observed to be much deeper than those on the left side, which would make sense given that carts would be driven without any load on the way to the quarry, but would return laden with stone. These grooves suggest that the Romans drove on the left, well, at least in Wiltshire.
Author Cyril Northcote Parkinson believed that ancient travelers on horseback generally rode on the left side of the road because more people are right-handed, horsemen would thus be able to hold the reins with their left hands and keep their right hand free either to offer in friendship to passing riders or to defend themselves with swords, if necessary.
Another theory is that jousting knights with their lances under their right arm naturally passed on each other's right, and if you passed a stranger on the road you walked on the left to ensure that your protective sword arm was between yourself and him.
Revolutionary France, however, overturned this practice as part of its sweeping social rethink. A change was carried out all over continental Europe by Napoleon. The reason it changed under Napoleon was because he was left handed.
His armies had to march on the right so he could keep his sword arm between him and any opponent. From then on, any part of the world which was at some time part of the British Empire was thus left hand and any part colonised by the French was right hand.
Today, the EC would like the UK to fall into line with the rest of Europe, but this is no longer a viable option. It would cost billions of pounds to change road signs, traffic signals, lights etc.
The last European country to convert to driving on the right was Sweden in 1967. While everyone was getting used to the new system, they paid more attention and took more care, resulting in a reduction of the number of road accidents, so maybe it may not be a bad idea if Spain changed over to the left, it may encourage people to use their bl**dy indicators!!!
Until next week, please send any questions to me at email@example.com and remember; Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.