Left-hand or right-hand driving?

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In Germany, we drive on the right side of the road. We call that “Rechtsverkehr” (“right side traffic”). My English dictionary translates it as “right-hand driving”, or “right-hand traffic”. Apart from the UK (which is anyways an island), we Europeans drive on the right side of the road. Interesting experiences, like crossing the border from Thailand to Laos (and changing the side on which you drive) cannot be made in Europe, as you go to the UK either by ship or train.

An interesting statistical effect appears when drivers in a vehicle they are used to (e.g., Germans in a vehicle with the steering on the left) drive in countries where you drive on the other side. Your risk of being involved in a serious accident is much lower! Who would have thought that.

So, you know that some countries drive on the right side. Some on the left side. How do we drive in Liberia? The answer is simple: We drive on the better side of the road!

As quality is low and erosion high, the Liberian road system is in a condition where you choose the least bumpy part. Sometimes it’s right. Sometimes it’s left. Sometimes in the middle. Sometimes you even leave the road and pass through some private yards. A simple setup, yet unconventional – at least if you believe the UN Convention for Road Traffic (Yes, there really is something like that).

Now does it have an effect on the risk of accident? A common belief is that car accidents in Africa are higher than in other parts of the world. WHO 2011-data says: 21,5 / 100.000 people die in a car accident. In Germany only 5,7 / 100.000 of all deaths occur in car accidents. Let’s look at a popular left-driving country to find out if “better-side” driving is at least better than left-driving: India: 18,7 / 100.000. United Kingdom: 4,8 / 100.000.

You see it: Better-side is not really an advantage. Maybe there’s another reason…

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