16/05/05

One of the things which remain a mystery to many is why there a couple of places in the world where you drive a car on the left. Why did they get it wrong? Or maybe they got it right? Even though it’s left…

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Watch

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Glossary

  • curb/kerb – a stone edging to a pavement or raised path
  • it’s not uncommon = it’s common
  • wield (e.g. a sword) – hold and use (a weapon or tool)
  • vulnerable – exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally
  • retaliate – make an attack in return for a similar attack
  • jump-start – start (a car with a flat battery) with jump leads or by a sudden release of the clutch while the car is being pushed / give an added impetus to (something that is proceeding slowly or is at a standstill)

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • On which side of the road do people drive in the majority of countries? Which side of the road did people historically drive on? (0:35)
  • Why did people prefer to ride horses on the left side of the road? (0:58)
  • What law was passed in 1756 in England? (1:25)
  • How is whipping  horses related to choosing the side of the road to drive on? What did it jump-start? (1:43)
  • What switch did Henry Ford make and why? (2:00)
  • Why do certain countries still prefer to drive on the left?

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Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces in the paragraphs below with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

In ________ past, almost everybody travelled on the left ________ of the road because that was ________ most sensible option for feudal, violent societies. ________ most people are right-handed, swordsmen preferred to keep ________ the left in order to have their right arm nearer to an opponent and their scabbard further from him. Moreover, it reduced the chance of the scabbard (worn on the left) hitting other people.

Answers: http://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/driving-on-the-left/

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Taking ________ left hand side in traffic is a habit that goes ________ hundreds of years, possibly as far ________ the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans, but certainly to an era when people habitually carried swords ________  traveling. As around 85-90% of humans are right-handed, passing on the right-hand ________ would leave carriage and cart drivers more open ________ attack from people coming ________ other way. Knights with lances, squires with knives, peasants with pitchforks, everyone had to be ready for a dust-up ________ a moment’s notice, and that meant keeping to the left ________ you could get a good swing at your assailants. Granted, this did mean they were more vulnerable to be attacked from the pavement, but ________ system is entirely foolproof.

In 1773, the British Government introduced the General Highways Act, which encouraged horse riders, coachmen and people taking their vegetables to market (while carrying swords) to drive on the left, and that was _______. The Highway Act of 1835 later reinforced this, making it the law ________ the land.

Answers: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2015/01/brits-drive-left

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