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Driving All Over The World

By raccars Published

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We Brits think we're pretty good at driving, but it's something that happens in every country, all over the world. However, it's not done in quite the same way, according to the following trivia titbits.

Left or right? Seventy six countries in the world drive on the left, English style. It might have made more sense if the whole world drove on the left, or the right, rather than mixing and matching, but Henry Ford had something to do with that. He chose to build the Model T with the driver sitting on the left hand side of the car, meaning the car should be driven on the right hand side of the road. In the 1920s, Spain, Italy and Canada gave in to the trend and switched to driving on the right, followed by most Eastern European countries in the 1930s and then Scandinavia in the 1960s. The USA, Latin America and continental Europe all drive on the right.

Apart from the UK, those territories that drive on the left are often former British colonies, including the Indian sub-continent, Australia and New Zealand and a number of Southern African countries.

Manual or automatic? All cars started off with a manual transmission, until General Motors introduced an automatic gearbox with the Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic in 1940. The idea caught on in the US in particular, with 82.7% of American made cars fitted with an automatic transmission by 1957.

Traditionally, cars with automatic transmissions are about 10-15% thirstier than manuals, although this evens out with motorway driving. Automatics are favoured for their ease of use, particularly for those who lack confidence on the road, and can be much more comfortable to use in traffic congestion, instead of constantly using a clutch. Manuals tend to win out for their more engaging driving experience.

Driving ages In the UK, you can obtain a driver's licence and be on the road at the age of 17. Isle of Man residents have a year's grace and can take to the roads at 16. Austria, Iceland, Ireland and Poland also require a minimum driving age of 17, while 18 is the norm in most of the rest of Europe, including France, Spain and Germany.

In Ethiopia, it's possible to get a driving licence at 14, while Canada, New Zealand and South Australia stipulate 16. The rest of Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia start driving at 17 and most of the rest of the world at 18.

In the USA, driving age is mandated by individual states and varies from 14 to 21.

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