Why The Philippines Drive on the Right Side?

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Video Credits: Today I Found Out via YouTube


Image Credits: rhinocarhire.com

I grew up without even bothering as to what part of the road people drive. What I clearly remember during my childhood days was, I have to cross the road when I have to walk to school so that I would be able to see the upcoming vehicles. I considered this as a safety measure. I was not comfortable walking on the side where vehicles are approaching from my back. 

But when I was able to travel to Hongkong and Macau several years ago, the first thing that I noticed was that they are driving on the other side, the left side. I considered this as an 'odd thing' because all the while, I was thinking that all the countries in the world are driving on the right side.

Image Credits: Jerome Lim via blog.omy.sg

The photo shows a taxi with a right-hand drive and another taxi at the back driving on the left side of the road

Just then I discovered through reading some related materials that there really some countries which drive on the left side but most drive on the right side.  

Here is a quick statistics:

66.1% of the world’s people live in right-hand traffic countries
33.9% of the world’s people live in left-hand traffic countries
72% of the world’s road distance carries traffic on the right
28% of the world’s road distance carries traffic on the left

Source: AxleAddict.com

Here is a map showing which countries are driving on the right as well as those driving on the left. The countries showing in red are those which drive on the left side of the road and yellow for those countries which drive on the right. I can see the Philippines in yellow. 

Image Credits: Brian Lucas via The Rule of the Road  

Why People During the Ancient Times Drive on the Left?

During the early times, most people drive on the left. The reason for this practice has something to do with the feudal system.  Because the majority of the people are right-handed, they need the right hand to be free at all times just in case an opponent approaches their way. It would be easier for the swordsmen to defend themselves.  Similarly, swordsmen can wear the sheat or scabbard on their left arm, so they won't hit other people they pass by. It would also be easier to mount the horses from the left.


Image credits:www.worldstandards.eu

Photo above showing two right-handed knights who chose to stay on the left side so that their right arm is nearer to an opponent

During the late 1700s, France and US started using wagons to transport farm products. Several horses are being used to drive the wagon. So that the driver could take control of the entire team, he would sit on the horse at the left rear side so he could use his right arm to handle the group. In order for him to keep an eye on the road and maintain the position on the road for oncoming vehicles, the wagons had to be driven on the right side of the road. 

Also according to history, the French revolution that took place in 1789 had a huge impact on right hand driving in Europe (aristocrats driving on the left wanted to be in level with the peasants who were driving on the right) and in 1794, right-hand driving was made a rule in Paris and a year before that in 1793 in Denmark too. Source: AxleAddict.com

The trend among nations over the years has been toward driving on the right, but Britain has done its best to stave off global homogenization. With the expansion of travel and road building in the 1800s, traffic regulations were made in every country. Left-hand driving was made mandatory in Britain in 1835. Countries which were part of the British Empire followed suit. This is why to this very day, India, Australasia and the former British colonies in Africa go left. An exception to the rule, however, is Egypt, which had been conquered by Napoleon before becoming a British dependency.

Source: The Worldstandards.eu

Click here is the list of all the countries and which side of the road they drive

 Which Side of the Road Do We drive in the Philippines?

Image Credits: Interaksiyon

 The photo above shows a road in the Philippines where vehicles are driving on the right side of the road.

Based on several articles that I read, the Philippine was driving on the left side of the road until President Sergio Osmeña signed Executive Order No. 34 on March 10, 1945, directing Filipino motorists to drive on the right side of the road. 

So, similar to that of Macau taxi which I showed above, our country also had right-hand drive vehicles in the past which means the steering wheel is positioned on the right. 

The transition from driving on the left to the right has something to do with the economics of the country. It was stated in the Executive Order that having left-hand drive vehicles would be advantageous to the Philippines in terms of the economy since it would reduce the price of the vehicles imported from the United States.

As of now, the number of countries who are driving on the right side comprises a large percentage of the countries in the whole world, thereby most vehicles that are being manufactured are left-hand drive vehicles.

Showing below is a photo of a taxi in the Philippines which driver sits on the left side. 

Image Credits: Ronald U. Mendoza via Rappler.com

Click here to open the Executive Order Amending Traffic Rules and Regulations for Vehicles.


The government has their own reasons for adopting which side to drive. I hope this article gives you an additional knowledge on this specific subject. How about in your country, do you drive on the right side or the left side of the road? How does it feels if you happen to go to another country and found out that they are driving the other way? 

Share your story with us.



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by: Sharon Lopez

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Sharon Lopez is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major in Banking and Finance and currently working in the government handling programs on Business Friendly and Competitive LGUs.
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