Left-Handers Day - Celebrating Left-Hand Drive!

By Elliot | 13th August 2013 | Category: History | Leave a comment

Left-Handers Day

Happy Left-Handers Day, Everyone!

Today is Left-Handers day, a day on which left-handed people everywhere are encouraged to celebrate their “right to be left-handed”.

I can understand why left-handed people might sometimes feel a little put-out. Because the vast majority of people are right handed, the whole world has been optimised for those who tend towards using their right hands. Doors, cookers, sinks, drawers, computer mice, tools and utensils – of course left-handed people get-by, but it must sometimes feel like they're mere guests in a world designed for their right-handed brothers and sisters.

And the Latin for left-handed? “Sinister”. Yeah, it must be difficult.

Still, the Left-Handers Day website is a little alarming in its militant tone:

“NOT TODAY! Because on this special day, it is your chance to GET YOUR OWN BACK on your right-handed friends colleagues and family, by designating your personal space as a LEFTY ZONE where everything must be done left-handed!”

Get your own back? Enforced use of left hands? Guys, I know it's Left-Handers Day, but you'll never win the mainstream acceptance you so obviously crave if your solution is simply to “get your own back”.

Left-Hand Drive

Still, far be it from me – a filthy, filthy right-handed person – to cast a gloomy shadow on Left-Handers Day. Today should be a day of celebration! A celebration of all things left-handed!

Relevant to our interests, for example, is the fact that left-handed people just might make for superior drivers. According to a poll, 57% of left handers passed their driving test on their first attempt compared to just 47% of right handers. When you consider that cars are designed with right-handed people in mind, this is pretty remarkable.

In fact, if you read this list, there's so much good to be said of being left-handed that you wonder why a special day of recognition and celebration is required. It seems that left-handed people are just superior through-and-through. That they triumph in a world built with right-handers in mind only serves to compound their brilliance.

Perhaps in lieu of a day celebrating the brilliance of left-handed people, we should have a day recognising the mediocrity of right-handed people? Never mind Left-Handers Day, where's my Right-Handers Day – a day in which I can feel OK with the fact that I don't do very well despite being right-handed in a right-handed world?

Still. Every day in Britain could be considered a celebration of left-handed people, because in Britain we drive on the right side of the road – by which I mean, the left side.

Every Day Is Left-Handers Day

The regulations dictating the side of the road on which we drive are often referred to as The Rule of the Road – so fundamental are they to optimum traffic flow.

The people of Britain are amongst the 33.9% of the world's population that live in left-hand traffic countries. There are 76 in total. European counties include the entirety of the British Isles (Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey), Malta and Cyprus. Notice that not one of these countries shares a land border with a country that drives on the right and that every single one of them was once part of the British Empire.

In fact, the list of countries featuring left-hand drive has an air of colonialism to it. Commonwealth countries and former British colonies tend to impose left-hand drive. Look, for example, to Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Hong Kong, Jamaica, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Trinidad & Tobego.

There are obvious exceptions, such as Canada, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the United States. But we can find left-hand drive comrades in such Asian countries as Thailand, Indonesia and Japan, but only The Falkland Islands, Guyana and Suriname represent the left-hand way in South America.

Keeping in line with Australia and New Zealand, most Pacific countries drive on the left. And a special shout-out to Samoa! In 2009 they joined the left-hand drive brigade, becoming the first country in three decades to change their traffic jurisdiction in such a way.

The move was instigated to encourage some of the 170,000 ex-pat Samoans living in Australia and New Zealand to ship used cars home to relatives. To avoid confusion, the move was ushered in with a two-day national holiday and a three-day ban on alcohol sales.

Which makes me think that Britain might happily switch to right-hand drive if they gave us two days off work. They'd have to let us drink, though, or there'd be blood on the streets.

So in recognition of Left-Handers Day, why not set-off on an Alan Partridge style road trip in which you only drive through countries in which they drive on the left-hand side? I'm sure it's doable in a day.

But whatever you do, have yourself a very happy Left-Handers Day. When shaking hands with your sinister compatriots, you know what hand to use.

Image From Wikimedia Commons.

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