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Why do the British drive on the wrong side of the road?
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Cowboy


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:38 pm    Post subject: Why do the British drive on the wrong side of the road? Reply with quote

I am an American, as some of you may know. And like any good American I have always just assumed that we did things properly because, well, we are Americans you know.

Now I must admit that I have never been to Britain, or Australia, or any other country where they drive on the "wrong" side of the road, in fact the only time I have been out of the USA is a half dozen brief incursions into Mexico, and about the same number of trips through Canada on the way to or from Alaska. Oh, and one trip though Arkansas at about 30mph over the speed limit, but that hardly counts since I only stopped long enough to fill the gas tank and hit the freeway again.

The point is, I was always somewhat irritated by the fact that some countries had the audacity to drive on the wrong side of the road. Just as I'm irritated by the metric system, it's just not the proper way to do things.

There is a YouTube poster from England who has a channel he calls "Lindybeige" whose videos I enjoy, especially his videos on historical topics. But he also does videos on other topics and there is very little that he doesn't have an opinion on. Anyway, one of his older videos from back in 2013 is about driving on the left. I recently watched it for the first time.

He makes a strong case for driving on the left. Historically traffic stayed to the left, horses, carts, wagons, Roman armies. Well OK, the Roman legions probably drove right down the middle. Lindybeige blames the French Revolution for starting the whole driving on the right thing. He claims that since most people are right handed it is their strongest side with quicker reactions, and this includes not only their right hands but also their right eyes. The side of the brain (left, I think?) that controls the right side processes information quicker. Driving on the left forces us to use our right, dominate side to focus on traffic which gives us slightly better reaction times. He presents statistics to back up his case. He gives the accident statistics per million vehicle-miles for Britain compared to the USA and the difference is startling, 4.29 for Britain vs. 57.66 for the USA. Even compared to other EU countries, like France and Germany, Britain comes out on top. Germany has some of the world's best roads, Germans are famous for their organizational skills and obedience to laws yet the Brits still best them for traffic safety.

If the British are right about this what else are they right about? Frightening thought. Naw, it must be just a fluke.

Edit: The video
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Tulipone


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Er...we don't drive on the wrong side.  I have no idea why most of the rest of the world insist on driving on the other side - very probably just to defy convention and good practice.  We do visit the US fairly frequently and have on occasion tried to show the locals the error of their ways by starting off on the left hand side.  Local driver belligerence usually forces me to switch lanes somewhat swiftly.

To an extent you do use a metric system - that is a unit divided into 100 equal parts.  You call them 'US Dollars' and 'Cents'.  

For some strange reason the US 'reinvented' that gallon as the imperial one didn't suit.  No idea why - perhaps as the US variant is smaller than the imperial it looks like you can get more petrol in a tank and its useful when playing top trumps?
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Ironhorse57


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The US didn't really reinvent the gallon, it's just that their pint measures are smaller, i.e. 16 fluid ounces as opposed to the proper 20, still 8 pints to the gallon

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kevin


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dont even talk to me about screw threads. I know what a M4 course is, I know what a 1/4 bsf is but what the hell is a 2-56?
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MooseMan


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a nice theory about keeping to the left - it keeps your left side protected while your right side, and therefore your sword hand, is open to the dangerous open side of the road.

I grew up in a right-hand country, but learned to drive in a left-hand country. I've no problem with either
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ozsteamdemon


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tulipone wrote:
 We do visit the US fairly frequently and have on occasion tried to show the locals the error of their ways by starting off on the left hand side.  Local driver belligerence usually forces me to switch lanes somewhat swiftly.


You cant be serious ? Break the law and cause danger just to show the locals your British .
A good way to get a free ride in the back of a police car.
Tell it to the judge buddy.  
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redryder


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kevin wrote:
dont even talk to me about screw threads. I know what a M4 course is, I know what a 1/4 bsf is but what the hell is a 2-56?


It's pretty small.... That's what the hell it is!

More seriously.... these are 2-56  (size 2 with 56 threads per inch)


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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always felt sorry a bit for my American cousins who have to use the gear shift with their right hand. That would feel so weird and unnatural. Now even if you've grown up with that.....you just HAVE to admit that changing gears using your left hand and right hand on the wheel is just way more cooler and more natural  
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Jon Cameron


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see his point but I think there's more at play with the stats, I'm an anomaly to what he says, my duff eye is the right, stand with your feet together which do you put forward? Me I'm left foot but most will go to walk with their right foot leading, hence the saying of best foot forward when up against a tough walk not right or left. (I know I'll be slammed by military guys on that one and I'm sorry in advance). I think the majority of the stats are down to etiquette, leaving room for others, rather then I'm here so that's me. I'm sorry if I offend or annoy other members, this is my thoughts, having recently been involved in an incident driving on the left, I am even more aware that the driver of other vehicles are what's more important to pay attention to! As what's unexpected is what usually causes the accident!
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redryder


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

redryder wrote:
kevin wrote:
dont even talk to me about screw threads. I know what a M4 course is, I know what a 1/4 bsf is but what the hell is a 2-56?


It's pretty small.... That's what the hell it is!

More seriously.... these are 2-56  (size 2 with 56 threads per inch)




My picture doesn't give a good idea of size other than relative to SD cards.

Here is a picture of one in my hand in front of the picture on my screen in the post above.

Gil


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I reckon the Unified system for screw threads are easy to use .
For obvious reasons , threads smaller than 1/4" are designated by numbers , similar to BA threads we commonly use almost daily.
I bought a full set of these Number Series Unified Taps and a few hundred hex head bolts to suit.
As with any thread whether it British or Metric , you still got to look at the chart.
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redryder


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"4.29 for Britain vs. 57.66 for the USA"

This is rather difficult to believe however.....
if your automobile insurance in the UK is 1/13th the cost
of ours across the pond, I would then believe that statistic.
I would also want to buy my vehicle insurance in the UK  
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Stoker


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always thought it pretty odd that the British and some of their Commonwealth partners choose to drive on the left, especially considering that they represented the greatest maritime power the world had ever known for a couple of centuries leading up to the invention of the automobile. The Nautical convention has long held approaching vessels pass on their Port (or left) sides, which is to say that internationally ships "drive" on the right side of shipping lanes, with some few exceptions for special local situations!

As for the 2-56 thread ... I'll grant that it is not easily deciphered, but submit that the British had a major hand in its formation and adoption, so should have little to complain about in its existence or usage!

Here is a thumbnail tutorial on my understanding of the UNC/UNF thread convention:

A 2-56 UNC bolt (or screw if you prefer) is going to have a major diameter of .086" and have 56 threads per inch along its length. That is derived by starting with a base major diameter of .060" for a 0-80 bolt and adding the multiple of .013" times the bolt number prefix. Therefore a 2-56 bolt is (2 x .013) + .060 = .086 . Or similarly a 10-32 UNF bolt will have a .190" major diameter and have 32 threads per inch along its length, as per the equation: (10 x .013) + .060 = .190

Hope that helps!
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redryder


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Daniel! I have learned something today. I had occasionally wondered what those sizes we use meant but not enough to check into it.

That said, I have used them all more than enough to know at a glance what size they are.
It is what we are used to.

In the UK, many of you know BA threads at a glance.

Again, thanks Daniel. I have been using all sizes of taps and dies since I was 10 years old
and never before knew the formula. I still don't quite understand it!
 

But then again I don't need to understand it other than that it is where our bolt sizes come from.
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stoker wrote:
I've always thought it pretty odd that the British and some of their Commonwealth partners choose to drive on the left, especially considering that they represented the greatest maritime power the world had ever known for a couple of centuries leading up to the invention of the automobile. The Nautical convention has long held approaching vessels pass on their Port (or left) sides, which is to say that internationally ships "drive" on the right side of shipping lanes, with some few exceptions for special local situations!


I didn't know ships drove on the right, never was around boats much. Locomotives in N. America have the engineer on the right side of the cab. Not sure about other countries though. They can, and do, pass on either side, it depends on the situation, and the decision is made by a dispatcher, not the train crew. Helicopter pilots usually fly from the right side of the cockpit, not sure what their rules for passing or meeting other traffic are, except the vertical dimension probably comes into play in a big way.

Gil, the statistics are from the video. There are probably other factors that come into play for the accident rates. My own feeling, although I don't really have much to back it up, is that many Americans are not very good drivers. A lot of that is probably because we really don't get much training. I always feel a bit nervous with other people driving until I know they are safe. I used to play a little game with people when I was riding shotgun in their car. I would see a speed limit sign announcing a change in the speed limit. I would casually ask them what the speed limit was. They almost never knew. That's why speed traps work. Same with two lanes merging into one. They would be positioned alongside other traffic making it difficult to merge, because they didn't notice the several signs announcing that their lane was about to end. Commercial drivers are noticeably safer and more fluid in traffic (usually).

I would have liked to see the statistics for Germany, that would be a better comparison, but Lindybeige claims Britain has them beat. His argument kind of makes sense to me. A fraction of a second difference in reaction time could be important, even when it is another driver at fault.

Another idiosyncrasy that used to drive me nuts when on a motorcycle was cars pulling out from side roads and turning left in front of me. It happened so much that I expected it and was ready for it. They would look right at me, even holding their gaze for a second or two, and then pull out. When younger I thought they were doing it on purpose, but then I noticed even other motorcycles would sometimes do it. My personal theory is that they see you but it doesn't register consciously because they are looking for cars and trucks. Blinking the headlight or even waving usually gets their attention. They aren't really trying to kill me, but will nonchalantly do it anyway if I'm not careful.

My point with that is that the brain can do funny things when processing information. It has to be selective about what gets its conscious attention or it would be overwhelmed. It is known that the two sides of the brain process info differently. Stroke victims sometimes lose part of the wiring for one side of the brain and no longer processes input from that eye. The other side takes over and fills in for the damaged side. They will do things like shave half of their face but in the mirror they see themselves as clean shaved.

Anyway, I'm not an expert on any of this but I thought the video was interesting.  
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