Does Australia Have Right Hand Drive Cars?

Australia, the land Down Under, is known for its stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and a lifestyle that’s all about enjoying the great outdoors. But have you ever wondered about the vehicles Australians drive? In this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of Australian cars and answer the burning question: Does Australia have right hand drive cars?

Historical Background

To understand why Australians drive right-hand drive (RHD) cars, we need to take a step back in time. Right-hand drive cars have a long history, dating back to the days of horse-drawn carriages. Imagine a time when knights in shining armor rode their trusty steeds down narrow, winding roads. Well, back then, the sword-wielding knight needed his right hand free for combat. Hence, sitting on the left side of the horse allowed him to keep his dominant hand (the right) within easy reach. This tradition extended to early motor vehicles, making right-hand drive the norm.

Now, you might be wondering, why did some countries switch to left-hand drive (LHD)? Let’s take the United States, for example. In the early 20th century, the U.S. transitioned to left-hand drive. The idea was that having the driver on the left side of the car provided a better view of oncoming traffic when overtaking on two-lane roads.

But why did Australia stick with RHD when others made the switch? The answer lies in Australia’s Road Rules and Traffic. Aussies drive on the left side of the road, just like the UK and many other countries. This choice influences the design of vehicles, ensuring that the driver has a clear view of oncoming traffic when overtaking. So, having RHD cars aligns perfectly with this traffic flow.

Right-Hand Drive vs. Left-Hand Drive

Let’s dig deeper into the differences between RHD and LHD vehicles. Imagine you’re driving down a scenic coastal road in Australia, and you decide to overtake a slower-moving vehicle. In a right-hand drive car, your seat’s on the right side of the vehicle, allowing you to easily peer around the car in front to check for oncoming traffic. This setup offers an added layer of safety when overtaking on winding roads, which are common in Australia.

Now, picture yourself in a left-hand drive car on the same road. Your seat is on the left side of the vehicle, which means your view of oncoming traffic is obstructed when you attempt to overtake. It’s a bit like playing a game of chance. While it can be done safely, it’s undeniably trickier.

So, what are the advantages of right-hand drive? Well, we’ve touched on improved visibility when overtaking, but there’s more to it. For Australians who occasionally travel to left-hand drive countries, like the U.S., driving a right-hand drive car feels more intuitive. Your position on the right side of the vehicle aligns with the right side of the road, making the transition smoother.

However, there are disadvantages of right-hand drive, too. Overtaking on two-lane roads can be a bit of a challenge, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, the limited availability of imported LHD vehicles can be frustrating for those who prefer them.

The Australian Car Market

So, how prevalent are RHD cars in Australia? Well, they are the norm. In fact, if you stroll down a typical Australian street, you’ll notice that the majority of vehicles are right-hand drive. While left-hand drive vehicles are available, they are less common. This is because Australian consumers prefer RHD cars, primarily due to their alignment with local traffic rules.

To put it in perspective, consider this: If you’re an Australian looking to buy a new car, your local dealership will overwhelmingly stock right-hand drive models. These vehicles are designed to meet Australian standards and suit the preferences of local drivers.

Legal Aspects

Importing a left-hand drive vehicle into Australia can be tricky. The country has strict regulations to ensure the safety and compliance of all vehicles on its roads. Importing LHD vehicles requires meeting specific criteria and adhering to Australian standards. There are also restrictions on when and where LHD cars can be driven. For example, you can’t just bring in a LHD car from overseas and drive it on Australian roads without meeting certain safety and compliance requirements.

Historical Development of Right-Hand Drive in Australia

Australia’s choice to stick with RHD vehicles can be traced back to its history of British colonization. Back when Australia was a British colony, the influence of the motherland was significant. This included adopting British customs, such as driving on the left side of the road and using RHD vehicles.

The historical development of RHD in Australia is deeply tied to its ties with Britain. It’s a piece of history that’s still evident today when you see RHD cars dominating the roads.

Automotive Industry in Australia

For decades, Australia had a thriving domestic car manufacturing industry. Brands like Holden, Ford, and Toyota produced cars tailored to the local market. Unsurprisingly, these vehicles were right-hand drive, as they catered to the preferences of Australian drivers.

However, with the closure of major car manufacturing plants in recent years, the automotive industry in Australia has seen significant changes. Today, Australia primarily relies on imported vehicles, many of which are still right-hand drive. While the local manufacturing landscape has shifted, RHD cars remain the norm.

Cultural and Social Perspectives

Perception matters when it comes to RHD vehicles in Australia. Australians have grown accustomed to driving on the left side of the road and using RHD cars. These factors are deeply embedded in the country’s culture and way of life. Plus, RHD vehicles have made their mark in Australian popular culture, further solidifying their place in society.

Imagine this scenario: You’re at a local gathering in Australia, and the topic of driving comes up. You’ll likely hear anecdotes about the challenges and quirks of driving right-hand drive vehicles. It’s a shared experience that unites Aussies, reinforcing the cultural significance of RHD cars.

Future Trends

As the world evolves, so does the automotive industry. While RHD vehicles remain prevalent in Australia, there’s always the possibility of change. With advancing technology and growing environmental concerns, the automotive landscape may see shifts in the future.

One potential trend to watch is the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs). Electric cars often have simplified drivetrains, which means they can be adapted for either left-hand or right-hand drive with ease. As EV adoption continues to grow, this flexibility may open up opportunities for more left-hand drive options in the Australian market.


In conclusion, Australia does indeed have right-hand drive cars, and they’re a fundamental part of the country’s roadways and culture. The choice to drive on the left side of the road has solidified the use of RHD vehicles in Australia, making them the norm on Aussie streets. While other countries have embraced left-hand drive, Australia’s unique traffic rules and historical ties have kept RHD cars in the driver’s seat.

So, the next time you visit Australia, don’t be surprised to find yourself behind the wheel of a right-hand drive vehicle as you explore this incredible country! Whether you’re navigating the bustling streets of Sydney or cruising along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll be doing it in a vehicle perfectly suited to the Australian way of life.


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