How to Always Know Which Side of the Road You’re Supposed to Drive On

Interior view of driver in Mercedes Benz driving down the street at night with blurred city lights around the car.

Let’s face it, we all need to get around – and while traveling, not only do you (by definition) move around a lot more, but you have the added challenge of keeping track of which side of the road to drive on – plus, if you’re driving a car, which side the steering wheel is on (which is not always consistent with the side of the road you’re on).

Whether it’s your first time driving on the opposite side of the road – be it on a motorcycle or in a car (which would also probably mean it’s your first time driving on the other side of the car) – or if you’re frequently switching between countries with opposite driving sides, this one simple trick will help keep you safely driving on the right (that is, the proper) side of the road.


Drumroll, please…

The One and Only Trick You Need to Always Drive on the Right (Correct) Side of the Road

Whether you’re driving a car, a motorcycle, or a penny-farthing – the simple trick is: keep the passenger to the curb.

Which side to drive on - here, the driver is on the right, the "curb" and passenger are on the left, so the person is driving on the correct side.
Since the passenger side is the same side as the curb side, you’re driving on the correct side! (Which, in this case, is not the right side!)

Unless you’re in one of the small number of countries where the passenger faces away from the curb – or you’re driving an import (which is usually not going to be the case if you’re renting) – just remember that the passenger side is the curb side, and you’ll be alright.

If you’re on a scooter or a motorcycle, just find the passenger side for that country, and remember it – you can imagine a side car if you’d like.

Alternatively, you can remember to keep the driver’s side to the center line, but given that there are usually multiple lines on any road that’s more than 2 lines (and when there aren’t, it usually due to the lines being worn away/never painted in the first place, which may also mean there is no center line), trying to figure out which line adds extra time compared to finding the curb/shoulder/guard rails/where the pavement ends or the dirt gets rougher – and that extra half or full second or two could make a real difference to whether you’re able to come back here and read more safety tips or not.

Easy, Peasy

It will take a very short amount of getting used to, and so before long, you’ll no longer need to ask the question “which side of the road do I drive on?” – you just check your sides, and be safely on your way.

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Naturally, after some time driving in a place, the side of the road will become automatic – but sometimes, we do fall into our old habits. After an 8 month stay in Thailand, one late night, I was making a left turn at a 6-lane intersection, and went onto the wrong side of the road. My tiredness was nearly immediately alleviated by a strange sense of “wait, those headlights in the distance are on the wrong side”. Being quite sleepy, I had gone back to my default (right lane driving), but a quick “passenger check” showed me that it was me – and not the other driver – that was driving on the wrong side of the road. I quickly realized which side of the road I needed to get over to, and got back onto the left side, where I belonged (rather than stopping on the shoulder in case I was in the correct lane, and the other driver was somebody insane, inebriated, tired, or confused – like a traveler who hadn’t read this article).

Now, you know the trick – may your driving be forever correct, be it left or right.

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