In the section titled “Safety aspects” there was this sentence:
Which gives rise to my question(s):
Is the sentence bollocks?
Do you have lots of cars / trucks with the driver’s seat and controls mounted on the *left *side?
Do you have lots of cars / trucks with the driver’s seat and controls mounted on the *right *side, but the controls themselves (e.g. turn signal & headlight stalks, gear shift pattern, etc.) are configured as though they were meant to be installed on the *left *side?
Or does Q3 not make sense because purebred RHD cars have always had some controls mirror-imaged vs. purebred LHD cars and some controls oriented the same way? IOW, the wiki is unnecessarily calling attention to something that’s been true for the whole 100ish years cars have been commonplace?
Comparable RHD/LHD models that I’ve driven (quite a few) have not been “mirrored”. The gear change pattern, dial and stalk layout have been the same, just shifted over to the other side. That isn’t surprising really as the additional cost of “mirroring” over a straight swap is going to be a disincentive.
So in my experience there is very little mirroring and very few new cars have any RHD influences.
(though I do recall the MK1 Golf GTI came with LHD wipers…that is a safety concern and the wipers are now perhaps the item that does get mirrored and I’d imagine that is dues to safety legislation)
I thought it a strange design choice when I noticed my friends’ Volvo had the power window switches and other controls in the center between the front seats, until I realized it was so they didn’t have to move those things side-to-side when making other-side-drive vehicles.
1. Is the sentence bollocks?
It’s a bit unclear. If they’re just referring to the stalk layout then it’s correct.
2. Do you have lots of cars / trucks with the driver’s seat and controls mounted on the left side?
You see a few LHD cars around. Mostly tourists or truckers from mainland Europe. I’ve owned 2 LHD cars here, an American car I brought with me when moving here and an early Smart from before they started RHD production.
3. Do you have lots of cars / trucks with the driver’s seat and controls mounted on the right side, but the controls themselves (e.g. turn signal & headlight stalks, gear shift pattern, etc.) are configured as though they were meant to be installed on the left side?
This is the way it works in my experience. All the cars I’ve had of either handedness have had the indicator stalk on the left. Gear shift in the middle as you’d expect, with the pattern you’d expect. Pedal layout is also the same in both LHD and RHD.
**4. Or does Q3 not make sense because purebred RHD cars have always had some controls mirror-imaged vs. purebred LHD cars and some controls oriented the same way? IOW, the wiki is unnecessarily calling attention to something that’s been true for the whole 100ish years cars have been commonplace? **
The only car I’ve seen with the stalks reversed was a Toyota SUV from around 20 years ago. That could just be a Toyota thing, not a RHD thing.
Actually it might have been. For one thing the various Jeep-branded SUVs are actually one of the few things Chrysler has managed to sell a lot of overseas (along with PT Cruisers inexplicably.) Jeep also has a long history of making RHD versions of their trucks for rural mail carriers, which extended to the Liberty. For example: Used Cars Galena IL | Used Cars & Trucks IL | Postal Pete
I think in the past there was a strong convention that a steering column would have two stalks mounted on it: One for the indicators & headlights and one for the windscreen wipers. The convention specifically being the wipers control was ALWAYS on one side - which to be honest I can’t even remember which side that was.
In about half the cars I’ve ever driven, it had the wipers on the left and the the other half had it on the right. But I believe there is a “correct” side of the steering column and the fact half the time they are on the “wrong” side is what Wikipedia is referring to.
It’s common in my experience to get in a different car and turn the wipers on approaching every junction. Or if another driver cuts me up I get angry, go to flash the headlights full beam at them and end up squirting the screen with windscreen washer.
One of the points made in the wiki article was that for a floor-shifting manual transmission you’d ideally want the turn signal stalk on the outboard side so one hand can signal while the other shifts. That would be turn signal stalk on the left for LHD and right for RHD. And the article laments that that just isn’t so in modern Britain.
So it sounds to me like if we went back to a, say, mid 1950s purebred British car by a purebred British company, say a Morris, MG, Triumph, etc., we’d find the turn signal stalk on the right. Conversely if we encounter a modern car made for the British market, the turn signals will probably be on the left. And modern Brit drivers have gone through / are going through a muddled slow-motion transition from one to the other.
But I assume (help me out here) that we’d find the clutch pedal on the left and throttle pedal on the right even in a 1950s Britmobile.
And what of the shift pattern in the Olden Dayes? Would we find the low gears on the right & high to the left (mirror image vs. a LHD car), or would we find low on the left and high on the right?
The contract mail carrier at my previous house had a RHD 2000-ish Jeep Cherokee with about 1 million miles on it. It was sorta grape jelly-colored but had faded massively over the years to be a weak Kool-aid color. Kinda scary looking actually.
I’d be interested to hear if things were more mirrored in the Olden Dayes, so I’ll be keeping an eye out on this thread. Personally, as a LHD driver, I found the fact that nothing was mirrored made my transition to driving an RHD vehicle pretty much seamless. (The only confusing part for me was getting a sense of my car’s footprint on the road–I always felt like I was farther over to the left than I actually was.)
As a LHD driver, my only real experience with RHD was in Japan. The vehicles I drove were mostly Toyota pickups. This was 15 years ago, but IIRC, the lights/wipers were mirrored, but the transmission shifting pattern was the same as a LHD car.
The notes upthread about Jeeps being produced with RHD in the States for use by the US Postal Service reminded me of a question I always wanted to ask people from RHD countries —> do your postal services use LHD cars?
Not that I’ve seen in the UK. Our delivery model for domestic mail may well be different though - around here there are secure boxes dotted about the town. These are filled first thing by Post Office vans direct from the sorting office/depot, and then posties on foot fill their delivery bags from them, and they post the mail through the letterboxes in peoples front doors. We don’t really have the roadside mailboxes that US TV and movies tell me is common in American suburbia.
It is actually more rural than suburbia. I currently live out in the country, and we have a mailbox on the curb. The mail is delivered in an RHD Jeep Liberty. I grew up in suburbia, and we had a mailbox next to the front door, and some people had mail slots in the door.
The USPS seems to be going to cluster box units in a lot of suburban areas, too. I’ve also noticed them replacing rural mailboxes in some of those places where you have a group of individual mailboxes at a road turnoff that the delivery vehicle doesn’t go down. These things also obviate the need for a RHD delivery vehicle.
Someone said the two expected stalks on the steering column are turn signals and wipers. This is recent in the U.S. For many years, the expected two stalks were turn signals and gear shift lever. Wipers were a switch on the dashboard.
Basically, all cars are right hand drive, and pretty much all cars have the turn signal (or indicator, as we call it) stalk on the left of the wheel. The gear shift pattern is not a mirror image of LHD cars, either. Neither is the pedal layout. Why would it be?
I’ve had to get used to the indicator stalk being on the ‘other’ side from one of my previous cars - a 1979 Mini, I think.
Some aspects of European cars don’t get transferred to the other side for the British market - the bonnet [hood] release, for instance which remains on the ‘wrong’ side in some models. My late father had Alfasuds in the 1970s which had the boot [trunk] release on the wrong side as well and the passenger had to operate it, I think.
It wasn’t until quite late on that manufacturers standardised the foot controls. My mother learnt to drive in the 1950s on my father’s 1930s Wolseley Hornet which had the brake and clutch reversed from the conventional positions - lots of sports cars had that at the time.