On the way from Heathrow to the "luxury hotel" where I'm staying, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. But I was transfixed by this country, in which -- to the ugly American foreigner used to cars being driven by drivers who sit on the left side of the car -- every automobile seems to be running on autopilot. I expected it, of course. Everyone knows that the British drive on the opposite site of the road. (Or that Americans do, depending on who you ask.)
So I've been asking around, trying to find out why this happens, why in the world, there are some cars that are "right-handed" and others that are "left-handed." One person said it had to do with Napoleon, who drove his Hummer (you know, because he was compensating for what he often called his "Me Complex") on one side, and that the British said "F&*% the French!" and presto, driving on the other side. Someone else noted it likely had to do with jousting. (As unlikely as it might seem, the latter theory is actually more correct.) What I found, and have not had a chance to fully read, is this.
But whatever the origin of the custom/law, isn't there enough divisive behavior in the world (see also, "war," "relationships," "the metric system") without arbitrary car driving guidelines, so half of the world is a road hazard when visiting the other half?
And that's why, when New Yorkers like the Urban Kvetch and Shabot are traveling in right-side car countries, we opt for public transportation.