Find Out if You Can Drive a Right-Hand Car in the USA

If you’re living in the United States, seeing a right-hand car, whether in a movie or personal life, might feel strange. Your inner self might feel surreal when you get the chance to experience driving a right-hand car instead of the standard left-hand drive you were used to. This article will explore whether driving a right-hand vehicle in the USA is possible.


Historical Background

The United States was once among the countries that followed a right-hand driving system until the early 1900s. It changed when Henry Ford developed his Model T in 1908, switching the steering wheel from the right to the left side of the car, making it a left-hand car.


Fortunately, you can legally drive a right-hand car in the states as there are no regulations prohibiting people from driving right-hand drive cars on public roads. However, it’s essential to remember that you can only do so if your vehicle is registered and insured. You comply with the state’s federal emissions and safety standards statutes. Otherwise, you could suffer from paying fines or suspending your license.

Left-hand vs. Right-hand Driving

Knowing the difference between left-hand and right-hand driving will benefit you if you visit a country that drives on the opposite side of the road from your own.

A right-hand drive refers to a configuration of the car in which the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle, and the gearshift is on the left. This driving scheme is most common in countries where traffic drives on the left side of the road, including Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, left-hand drive cars position the gearshift on the right side of the vehicle, and the steering wheel is placed on the left side. This design is seen more frequently in the United States and Canada, where traffic drives on the right side of the road.

What Are the Benefits of Driving on the Right Side of the Road?

About 65 percent of countries drive on the right side of the road, while the rest go on the opposite side. The primary reason behind this is its several benefits, including improved visibility and safety, easier passing on the highway, and better suitability for parallel parking. Additionally, getting out of the car is easier and safer, and reaching mailboxes inside the vehicle is more convenient.

Improved Visibility and Safety

In some cases, driving on the right side of a two-lane road can be safer than driving on the left. As a driver, you can see more of what is happening around you and anticipate potential issues. You can also see the curves in the road more easily, providing a better view of oncoming traffic. This allows you to react quickly, which is beneficial on unfamiliar roads.

Passing on the Highway Made Easier

On highways, drivers typically use the left lane to pass other drivers and merge into faster-moving traffic. However, in a left-hand car, passing can be difficult as you may need help to see if another vehicle is approaching from behind, making it harder to get back to the right lane when you are done passing. On the other hand, driving on the right side of the highway can make it much easier to judge where you need to be and when it is safe to pass.

Ideal for Parallel Parking

Driving on the right side of the road is also ideal for parallel parking. Using the left-hand car, the driver has a clear view of the curb, making it easier to judge the distance and ensure the vehicle is aligned correctly. These cars are often narrower than right-hand drive models, making them easier to maneuver into tight spots. Driving on the right side of the road also provides a greater turning radius, which can be helpful when making tight turns into a space.

Getting Out of the Car Is Also Much Easier

By driving on the right side of the road, you can open the door and exit without worrying about opening it onto traffic passing by on the left side. This makes getting out of the car more accessible and safer, especially in busy areas or narrow roads.

Mailboxes Are Easy To Reach While Inside the Car

Drivers of left-hand drive cars, who drive on the right side of the road, can easily reach out the window and grab mail from their mailbox without getting out of the vehicle. This is because the mailboxes are usually located on the right side of the road.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Driving a Right-Hand Car in the USA?

While there are several benefits to driving a right-hand car, there are also some disadvantages, including difficulties with left-hand turns, limited visibility and blind spot issues, costly maintenance and repair parts, and the need for passengers to exit on the traffic side.

Factors To Consider Before Purchasing a Right-Hand Car

Before purchasing a right-hand drive vehicle, several factors must be considered, including safety, familiarity with the vehicle’s features and design, suitability for driving in the US, cost, and availability.


No US regulations prevent people from driving right-hand cars on public roadways as long as they comply with federal emissions and safety standards. While driving a right-hand drive car can offer advantages, you must ensure your comfort, suitability, cost-effectiveness, and availability before switching. Weighing all the pros and cons is crucial to avoid risking your life if you are uncomfortable driving in such a position.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.