Car Manufacturers Are Secretly Favouring Right-Handed Drivers over Left

With the internationally celebrated Left-Handers Day coming up this Sunday, we felt it fitting to analyse the design of the UK’s car and whether it favours those who are right-handed over their left-handed counterparts.

Firstly, driving on the left-hand side of the road actually dates back far before motoring was invented; in more violent times, jousters and horsemen would ride on the left into battle to keep their sword arm (more often the dominant arm) free for fighting. This originally favoured the right-handed and has developed into the norm for travel over the years, for the UK at least. When considering the driver’s right-sided seat and the car’s placement on the left side of the road, it can be argued that, visually speaking, this is still more convenient for those who are right-handed. This is because the driver will use their dominant right eye more prominently when observing oncoming traffic and can make a decision on whether it is safe to overtake. In fact, research recently from Privilege Car Insurance found that left-handed drivers are more likely to be involved in a serious accident than a right-handed driver. Perhaps this is due to right-handed drivers feeling more comfortably situated on the road?

Being seated on the right-hand side of the car also means that the driver will use their right arm when reaching out of the window. Whether stopping to remove a ticket from a barrier or receiving takeaway, it is technically easier to do so for a right-handed driver. The driver’s door is also designed to be opened and closed with the right hand; whilst it can be done with the left, this would be much more uncomfortable!

In terms of controls, the pedals are arguable better-suited for a right-handed driver as well; accelerating and braking are both controlled by the right foot, whilst only the clutch is controlled by the left; in the case of an automatic car, the left foot sadly has no function at all! However, the placement of the gear box and any centrally-based controls, such as the radio, certainly benefits the left-handed drivers. This could potentially be reflected, once again, in recent research which found that left-handed drivers have a higher chance of passing their driving test the first time around. Left-handed learner drivers are more likely to have better control over the changing of gears, which is arguably one of the more tricky skills to learn. As such, learning to drive may come more naturally in this sense to those who are left-handed rather than right. On the other hand, it is conceivably more comfortable to keep the dominant hand on the steering wheel, which would ultimately help the right-handed drivers when changing gears. The placement of controls around the steering wheel can vary, although the ignition is more often than not found on the right side again, which is the same in Left Hand Drive Cars too, so this is certainly designed with right-handed drivers in mind.

The overall design of the car apparently benefits the majority of right-handed drivers, which is not surprising. Whilst the placement of some controls can vary, it would not be economically efficient for car designers to cater for left-handed drivers as well as the right. As an alternative, it is indeed possible to buy and drive Left Hand Drive cars in the UK, however it may be uncomfortable to adjust to driving on the left-hand side of the road, in the left-hand side of a car! So it seems most lefties have to accept and adjust to the right-handed design of the UK’s cars. Although, globally speaking, the majority of the world’s vehicles are actually more suited to left-handed drivers as most are both seated and driven on the opposite side – an ultimate win for the lefties!

Andrew Jervis, Co-Founder of ClickMechanic, said: “As all drivers become accustomed to the controls and design of their car, it may seem unlikely that being left or right-handed can make a substantial difference, and yet, there are some placements of the controls which are undoubtedly designed to benefit the majority. That being said, some of the best drivers in the world are left-handed, so perhaps this discomfort allows the driver to better enhance their skills more than most?”