Wed, 18 Nov 1998 08:21:19 -0500
> >Recently I read a series of articles explaining the origin. When armies
> >traveled on horseback, they wanted to keep their lances and swords ready
> >to clobber the bad guys coming the other way. Since most of them were
> >right-handed, it made good sense to drive on the left. Apparently this
> >goes back to the ancient Romans.
> >The theory I heard about why we in the US drive on the right is that
> >people traveled in wagons, with a driver and a guard who "rode shotgun".
> >If you're right-handed, you want your right finger to pull the trigger,
> >so you sit on the left and hold the gun out to the left of the wagon.
> >But then it makes sense to drive on the right. Voila.
Well, these are obviously not "urban" legends, but ....
The problem I have with both theories is that in the time periods
described, they didn't paint white lines down the middles of the roads and
always stay on one side of the line. Plus, the U.S. stagecoach theory
puts the "shotgun" on the left where Americans now have the steering
wheels--and the driver on the right where it's harder to see whether
you're going to hit on the left.
Don't believe everything you read. William and Mary Morris are "respected
lexicographers." I was really enjoying their Dictionary of Word and
Phrase Origins until I got to one that pointed back to Spanish folk. I
speak Spanish, and it was quite obvious not only that they don't, but that
they were making the whole thing up. Which naturally made me wonder about
the rest of the book.....