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09/04/2020 News

A GLIMPSE BEHIND INDONESIA'S LEFT-HAND TRAFFIC

Total Oil Indonesia

Globally, countries around the world can be grouped into two based on their driving position: right-hand traffic (RHT) and left-hand traffic (LHT). Indonesia is of course an LHT country, where cars navigate in the left lane while the car is right-hand driving.

But how did LHT originate? The answer may lie in the history of humankind as far back as the ancient Rome. It is said that most people at the time were right-handed, including the knights. This caused them to travel on the left side of the road so that their scabbards and swords – placed on the left hip – wouldn’t hit the weapons of other knights. Mounting a horse, which for a right-handed person would be done from the horse’s left, was also easier with the sword on the left. 

The custom carried on and introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch colonist ever since the Dutch army reached the shores in 1596. The custom never changed. Japan, Indonesia’s colonizer subsequent to the Netherlands, has also been a left driving country.

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In fact, it was the Dutch that later changed its rules and adopted RHT when the country was colonized by the French. The change, however, did not transcended to Indonesia and Suriname as its colonies.

Indonesia practices LHT until today – it’s been adopted in the law – and is one of 76 countries to do so. The UK applies the same system, a legacy from the Roman empire. LHT is nevertheless outnumbered by 163 RHT countries in other parts of Europe and northern America.

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