Right-hand traffic (RHT) and Left-hand traffic (LHT) are the practices, in bidirectional traffic, of keeping to the left side or to the right side of the road, respectively. They are fundamental to traffic flow and are sometimes referred to as the rule of the road.

  • In Right-hand traffic (RHT) jurisdictions, vehicles are configured with Left Hand Drive (LHD), with the steering wheel on the left side.
  • In Left-hand traffic (LHT) jurisdictions, vehicles are configured with Right Hand Drive (RHD), with the steering wheel on the right side.

RHT is used in 165 countries and territories, with the remaining 75 countries and territories using LHT.

Many LHT countries were formerly part of the British Empire, although many were not, such as Sweden (which is now RHT), Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal and Suriname, among others. Conversely, many RHT countries were part of the French colonial empire.

In LHT traffic keeps left, and cars usually have the steering wheel on the right (RHD – right-hand drive), putting the driver on the side closest to the centre of the road. Roundabouts circulate clockwise.

Countries with Left and Right Hand Traffic.
Countries with Left and Right-Hand Traffic. CODE: RED- RIGHT-HAND TRAFFIC, BLUE- LEFT-HAND TRAFFIC.

RHT is the opposite of this: traffic keeps right, cars usually have the steering wheel on the left (LHD), and roundabouts circulate anticlockwise.

Right-hand traffic in Nigeria

Nigeria adopted the Right-hand traffic (RHT), and as such, vehicles in Nigeria have the steering wheel on the left.

On Sunday, April 2, 1972, the Federal Military Government of Nigeria abandoned the left-hand drive to the right-hand drive.

The change was due to the fact that Nigeria was surrounded by Francophone countries who had always been on the right-hand drive; the Republic of Benin, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

Then, their drivers used Nigeria’s ports and borders while Nigerian drivers delivered goods to those countries with much confusion. It made much sense to make that change.

For instance, if you wanted to drive from Lagos to Lome (Togo), you had to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road. Changing to the left simply made the journey easy. That was why Ghana had to change as well.

Vehicles in Nigeria using Right-Hand Drive in 1972.
Vehicles in Nigeria using Right-Hand Drive in 1972.

The entire West African region is dominated by the Francophone countries and the need for a seamless transportation and business flow triggered the change.

Second, most cheap and affordable cars in vogue then were made in France (Renault, Peugeot) and Germany (Volkswagen) which were designed for right-hand drive roads.

It would be an expensive process to convert them.

Traffic for Rail, Boats and Aircrafts

In most countries, rail traffic travels on the same side as road traffic. However, in many cases, railways were built using LHT British technology and, while road traffic switched to RHT, rail remained LHT.

Examples include Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Egypt, France, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Laos, Monaco, Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, Portugal, Senegal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Boats are traditionally piloted from starboard to facilitate priority to the right.

According to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, water traffic is effectively Right-hand traffic (Left Hand Drive): a vessel proceeding along a narrow channel must keep to starboard (the right-hand side), and when two power-driven vessels are meeting head-on both must alter course to starboard also.

For aircraft, the US Federal Aviation Regulations suggest Right-hand traffic (Left Hand Drive) principles, both in the air and on water, and in aircraft with side-by-side cockpit seating, the pilot-in-command (or more senior flight officer) traditionally occupies the left seat.

An Audi vehicle using Left Hand Drive.
An Audi vehicle using Left Hand Drive.

Right-hand Traffic (Left-Hand Drive) Countries

  1. Albania
  2. Algeria
  3. American Samoa
  4. Andorra
  5. Angola
  6. Argentina
  7. Armenia
  8. Aruba
  9. Austria
  10. Azerbaijan
  11. Bahrain
  12. Belarus
  13. Belgium
  14. Belize
  15. Benin
  16. Bolivia
  17. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  18. Brazil
  19. British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego García)
  20. Bulgaria
  21. Burkina Faso
  22. Burundi
  23. Cambodia
  24. Cameroon
  25. Canada
  26. Cape Verde
  27. Central African Republic
  28. Chad
  29. Chile
  30. China, People’s Republic of (Mainland China)
  31. Colombia
  32. Comoros
  33. Congo
  34. Congo (former Republic of Zaire)
  35. Costa Rica
  36. Croatia
  37. Cuba
  38. Czech Republic
  39. Denmark
  40. Djibouti
  41. Dominican Republic
  42. Ecuador
  43. Egypt
  44. El Salvador
  45. Equatorial Guinea
  46. Eritrea
  47. Estonia
  48. Ethiopia
  49. Faroe Islands (Denmark)
  50. Finland
  51. France
  52. French Guiana
  53. French Polynesia
  54. Gabon
  55. Gambia, The
  56. Gaza Strip
  57. Georgia
  58. Germany
  59. Ghana
  60. Gibraltar
  61. Greece
  62. Greenland
  63. Guadeloupe (French West Indies)
  64. Guam
  65. Guatemala
  66. Guinea
  67. Guinea-Bissau
  68. Haiti
  69. Honduras
  70. Hungary
  71. Iceland
  72. Iran
  73. Iraq
  74. Israel
  75. Italy
  76. Ivory Coast
  77. Jordan
  78. Kazakhstan
  79. Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of (North Korea)
  80. Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
  81. Kuwait
  82. Kyrgyzstan
  83. Laos
  84. Latvia
  85. Lebanon
  86. Liberia
  87. Libya
  88. Liechtenstein
  89. Lithuania
  90. Luxembourg
  91. Macedonia
  92. Madagascar
  93. Mali
  94. Marshall Islands
  95. Martinique (French West Indies)
  96. Mauritania
  97. Mayotte (France)
  98. Mexico
  99. Micronesia, Federated States of
  100. Midway Islands (USA)
  101. Moldova
  102. Monaco
  103. Mongolia
  104. Morocco
  105. Myanmar (formerly Burma)
  106. Netherlands
  107. Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba)
  108. New Caledonia
  109. Nicaragua
  110. Niger
  111. Nigeria
  112. Northern Mariana Islands
  113. Norway
  114. Oman
  115. Palau
  116. Panama
  117. Paraguay
  118. Peru
  119. Philippines
  120. Poland
  121. Portugal
  122. Puerto Rico
  123. Qatar
  124. Réunion
  125. Romania
  126. Russia
  127. Rwanda
  128. Saint Barthélemy (French West Indies)
  129. Saint Martin (French West Indies)
  130. Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)
  131. Samoa
  132. San Marino
  133. Sao Tome and Principe
  134. Saudi Arabia
  135. Senegal
  136. Serbia and Montenegro
  137. Sierra Leone
  138. Slovakia
  139. Slovenia
  140. Somalia
  141. Spain
  142. Sudan
  143. Svalbard (Norway)
  144. Sweden
  145. Switzerland
  146. Syria
  147. Taiwan
  148. Tajikistan
  149. Togo
  150. Tunisia
  151. Turkey
  152. Turkmenistan
  153. Ukraine
  154. United Arab Emirates
  155. United States
  156. Uruguay
  157. Uzbekistan
  158. Vanuatu
  159. Venezuela
  160. Vietnam
  161. Wake Island (USA)
  162. Wallis and Futuna Islands (France)
  163. Western Sahara
  164. Yemen
Vehicle with Left-Hand Traffic (Right-hand drive)
Vehicle with Left-Hand Traffic (Right-hand drive)

Left-hand Traffic (Right-Hand Drive) Countries

  1. Anguilla
  2. Antigua and Barbuda
  3. Australia
  4. Bahamas
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Barbados
  7. Bermuda
  8. Bhutan
  9. Botswana
  10. Brunei
  11. Cayman Islands
  12. Christmas Island (Australia)
  13. Cook Islands
  14. Cyprus
  15. Dominica
  16. East Timor
  17. Falkland Islands
  18. Fiji
  19. Grenada
  20. Guernsey (Channel Islands)
  21. Guyana
  22. Hong Kong
  23. India
  24. Indonesia
  25. Ireland
  26. Isle of Man
  27. Jamaica
  28. Japan
  29. Jersey (Channel Islands)
  30. Kenya
  31. Kiribati
  32. Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia)
  33. Lesotho
  34. Macau
  35. Malawi
  36. Malaysia
  37. Maldives
  38. Malta
  39. Mauritius
  40. Montserrat
  41. Mozambique
  42. Namibia
  43. Nauru
  44. Nepal
  45. New Zealand
  46. Niue
  47. Norfolk Island (Australia)
  48. Pakistan
  49. Papua New Guinea
  50. Pitcairn Islands (Britain)
  51. Saint Helena
  52. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  53. Saint Lucia
  54. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  55. Seychelles
  56. Singapore
  57. Solomon Islands
  58. South Africa
  59. Sri Lanka
  60. Suriname
  61. Swaziland
  62. Tanzania
  63. Thailand
  64. Tokelau (New Zealand)
  65. Tonga
  66. Trinidad and Tobago
  67. Turks and Caicos Islands
  68. Tuvalu
  69. Uganda
  70. United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
  71. Virgin Islands (British)
  72. Virgin Islands (US)
  73. Zambia
  74. Zimbabwe

REFERENCES:

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