Strange as it may seem the keep-left rule of the road goes as far as the ancient times and was followed in Europe and most of the world. It was quite natural, as most people are right-handed and it was more convenient for travelers riding on horseback to hold the reigns in their left hand, to leave the right hand free either to greet friends or to draw sword in defense. The shift from left to right started to spread in the 18th century, apparently following the example of the French, however each country seems to have had its own justification. Nevertheless in the contemporary world, there are only 75 countries left, where the keep-left rule of the road still remains. These include: in Europe – United Kingdom, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, Malta, Cyprus, Isle of Man; and in the other parts of the world – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, Dominica, East Timor, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Lesotho, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Virgin Islands, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In other words, nowadays about 65% of the world’s population live in right-hand traffic (RHT) countries and 35% in left-hand traffic (LHT) countries. About 90% of the world’s total road distance carries traffic on the right and 10% on the left. Nevertheless, most European Union member states allow registration of both Right Hand Drive (RHD) and Left Hand Drive (LHD) vehicles. As it may be expected driving RHD vehicles in LHT countries and vice versa, may cause some problems. A 2007 study by an insurance corporation revealed that drivers of RHD vehicles used in LHT environment are more than 40% more likely to be involved in road accidents than those using LHD vehicles and the other way round. Collisions appear to be most frequent in turning, passing and lane changing . It was proved that the elevated risk of collision is caused by the reduced direct field of view of drivers to the side and rear that is more easily viewed by the majority.
Fortunately, the market offers systems, that are designed to support drivers in the above situations. One of them, the cheapest and simplest is to install in the car a specially designed system of mirrors, that help the driver extend his field of view. The set consists of two mirrors installed inside the car at the kerbside – one of them is facing the road along the kerb and the image is reflected in the second mirror facing the driver, so that he can see past the vehicle in front of him. Yet, this may not be the ultimate answer to solve the problem. There is another solution – electronic one, that seems to be much more efficient than additional mirrors. A good example may be the ContinentalCam™ which can be used by both drivers in RHD cars in keep-left roads and those in LHD in keep-right roads. I believe it may be also used by others, especially HGV drivers, just to increase their safety on the roads. ContinentalCam™ is a specially designed camera system that makes it possible to see past other vehicles that are in front of the car, just as if the driver was sitting at the kerbside of the car. This system works by attaching on the left hand side of the windscreen a mini camera connected to an LCD screen placed in the driver’s view. The live picture from the camera is displayed on the LCD screen and makes it possible for the driver to see the road ahead from a wider perspective and makes it easier for him to make better decisions while driving. This system can be installed on either side of the car, regarding the need. The RHD / LHD car camera can be fitted practically to any vehicle type – taxi, truck, van, car with a trailer or caravan and so on.
The system consists of : thumb sized windscreen camera (25mm x 30mm), 3.5″ high resolution LCD monitor, mounts for camera and monitor, 12v cigar adapter with cabling and of course setup instructions. It costs about £130, so is rather affordable to everyone.