Mind the whip! (or origin of driving on the left)

As I was watching century-old pictures of Madrid, I noticed that one of them, from the year 1900, showed carriages and already electrified tramways driving on the left-hand side of the street. It wasn’t until the year 1926 that driving was changed to the right side in this city. According to the picture’s caption, the reason for driving on the left was to prevent pedestrians walking on the pavement from getting hurt by the coachmen’s whips, who were, for the most part, right-handed.

But there seem to be different versions of the origins of driving on the left. One has to do with horsemen’s swords…

So, you mean they held the reigns in the right hand and wielded the whip with the left?

The Czechs changed to the right side during the Nazi occupation. From what I understand, there were a couple of bad accidents between German and Czech vehicles, so the German government just ordered them to change sides.

No, it was the other way round, actually – holding the reigns must be easier than handling a whip! (well, probably, not certainly). In fact, judging by what you can see in period films, for instance, they could use both hands to guide the horses, as they didn’t need to crack the whip all the time.

I bet there were just as many accidents, if not more, after they changed sides, at least until the Czechs got used to driving on the right!

I guess the important thing for their oppressors was that it was the Czechs having most of the accidents, and not the Germans. :x