hidden europe 15

Keep left - tenez à gauche - links fahren!

by Nicky Gardner


Large parts of continental Europe used to drive on the left hand side of the road. Spain, Sweden, Iceland and Czechoslovakia have all swapped sides. Guernsey has even changed sides twice. We investigate the rule of the road.

Do you remember that moment when a famous American tele-evangelist ruffled feathers in his church community as he was caught driving on the wrong side of the road with a prostitute in his car? I've often wondered which transgression Jimmy Swaggart's church judged to be the more despicable: driving on the 'wrong' side of the road or being accompanied in that misdemeanour by a woman of ill-repute.

The world easily divides into places that drive on the right and those that favour a 'keep left' rule of the road. Europe falls, on the whole, into the first category, although there are four member states in the European Union where those of a sober disposition try, on the whole, to keep to the left: Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom.