Why do some countries drive vehicles on the left-hand side of the road while others on right-hand side?

It is said that drivers of horse carriages in Britain, before the invention of motor car, had found it convenient to drive on left-hand side as it prevented the horsewhip from getting entangled in the hedge on the right-hand side. According to another legend the genesis of this tradition lies in the convenience it gave to bodyguards riding in the vanguard of the king’s coach in wielding their swords or aiming and firing their pistols with right hand in case of need. This English tradition was subsequently implanted in subject countries like India with the result that in about 50 countries motor vehicles are driven on the left-hand side. 

On the other hand it is said that Napoleon marched his armies on the right-hand side of road, and as the conqueror of almost entire Europe he ordered driving on the right-hand side so the vehicles in most of the countries of Europe are driven on the right-hand side. Sweden was the only country in Europe which followed left-hand side driving rule for many years. But from September 3, 1967 the Swedish Government also adopted right-hand side driving rule. About 6,000 traffic lights and 3,60,000 road signs had to be changed all over the country for this purpose. Finally, on the dot of predetermined hour all the motor vehicles on the road stopped for a moment and then switched the sides. See the accompanying photograph above, taken at that time in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.

More reading:
Right- and left-hand traffic (Wikipedia)
Swedish driving side referendum (Wikipedia)

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