The Instigator
Lightkeeper
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points

Left-side traffic is not better than right-side traffic

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/14/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,393 times Debate No: 5717
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (37)
Votes (3)

 

Lightkeeper

Con

This debate is about road traffic systems. I am against the resolution that left side traffic is not better than right side traffic.
In other words, I will attempt to prove that left side traffic is in fact better than right side traffic.

Left side traffic is the system where we drive on the left side of the road (eg Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand).
Right side traffic is the system where we drive on the right side of the road (eg France, Germany, USA).

"Better" ----- we all should know what that word means. But just in case someone is not sure, it means "more good" or (more coloqually) "gooder". What that really means is that on the balance one has more benefits or less faults than the other (even if the difference is minute).

The debate is not limited to the question of which side of the road you drive on. Rather, the entire systems are to be considered in this debate.

I am aware the the majority of people here are from the USA. So I ask you to set your prejudices and national pride aside (I'll concede that the USA has everything that's best in the world... except for road traffic system) and let's do this debate fairly. This includes the voters.

I am Con and I let my opponent start. However, I assume the burden of proof.

No semantics please. Just this one time.
Ragnar_Rahl

Pro

The origin of left-side driving is in violence- it's easier to kill the traffic headed the other way if they are on the side of your dominant hand and your dominant eye. People get pissed enough at other drivers as it is without having a clear view of their face and/or, and a clear angle in which to pull out their AK-47 and pump that other driver full of lead. Therefore, right-side traffic results in reduction of the chances for violent crime.
Debate Round No. 1
Lightkeeper

Con

I thank my opponent for taking this debate.
I must say I did not anticipate this line of argument.

Road rage is indeed a problem when it comes to road safety. It is somewhat unfortunate, however, that my opponent has provided no support whatsoever for his theory.

Let us look at some statistics. According to an Internet survey (http://www.roadragers.com...) conducted in the USA, Canada ("Right Hand Side" Countries) , UK and Australia ("Left Hand Side" Countries), in 2004, the following percentages of surveyed drivers have experienced Rage:

Left-Hand System:
Australia: 49.82%
UK: 49.76%

Right-Hand System:
Canada: 51.21%
USA: 57.54%

In fact in road-deaths per capita, the USA is one of the world leaders (that is, those who have the most deaths) at 14.53 per 100,000 population. It is beaten by countries like Qatar, Russia, Latvia and Iran. The UK and Australia appear to be doing fairly well (moderate death rates) while New Zealand (also a Left-Hand System) is somewhat higher but still nowhere near the USA.

None of this disproves my opponent's theory. However, taken together, it shows that as far as Road Rage and road deaths are concerned, there is certainly no advantage on part of the Right-Hand System.

LEFT-HAND SIDE IS BETTER

Here are a number of aspects in which left-hand side system is better than the right-hand side system:

1. Right-Hand rule. This rule operates in both systems. It says that, all things being equal, we give way to the vehicle on our right. In the right-side system, where the driver is seated on the left side of the vehicle, this often means having to lean over to see past the fat mother-in-law sitting in our passenger seat. In the left-side system, our view to the right is clear. It's just the driver window between us and the road.

2. We are taught from a very young age that when crossing the road we must first look to the left (right-hand system) and right (left-hand system). Thus, looking to the right first is a well learned practice by the time we grow up. In the left-hand system this makes great foundation to deal with the right-hand rule. We already appreciate the significance of the right-hand side.

3. Roundabouts. In both systems, when coming to a roundabout we give way to vehicles already on it. In the left-hand system, they are approaching from our right. This is consistent with what we are very much used to, namely:
a) Looking to the right to obey the right-hand rule
b) Looking to the right when crossing the road as pedestrians (since a very young age)
c) Looking to the right first when crossing any road as that is the direction from which traffic will be coming
In the right-hand system, on the other hand, roundabouts are inconsistent with all other aspects of driving.

4. Manual (stick-shift) cars. In the right-hand system we sit on the left side and use our right hand (dominant hand, as my opponent would surely agree, given his own argument) to change gears. This leaves us controlling the direction of the car (steering wheel) with our left (weaker and less coordinated, for most of us) hand. In the left-hand system, we sit on the right and have our right hand on the steering wheel. It is obvious that in case of emergency, when sudden steering is required, the left-hand system driver is better equipped to deal with the situation. This does not only apply to stick-shift cars. In the right-hand system, drivers use their right hand to operate the radio, use the ashtray, do their makeup or express affection to their partner sitting in the passenger seat.

5. Drive-through. In the Left-hand system when going through drive-through and buynig a bulky meal (or a lot of beer), we are forced to either use our left hand to bring the purchased goods into the car or we have to twist our entire body to reach the window with our right hand. In the left-hand system, where the driver is on the right side of the car, our stronger (right) arm is the one with direct access to the driver window.

6. Emergency evacuation. Since (as per my opponent's own contention), our right side is dominant, this obviously includes our leg and foot. In the left-hand system, when faced with an emergency and a need to suddenly decamp from the vehicle, it is our right (stronger and better coordinated) foot that lands on the ground first. It has a lesser chance of losing its ground or twisting. You might think this is an extreme example. However, just consider how easy it might be to lose your footing under the stress of having to escape a burning vehicle. In the right-hand system it is our left and weaker foot that hits the ground first. It is more prone to accident and failure.

Taking into account all of the above factors, I conclude that the left-hand system has more advantages and less weaknesses thatn the right-hand system.

At the end I will point out that most left-hand system countries do not have AK-47's readily available to members of the public.
Ragnar_Rahl

Pro

The right hand rule is of primary importance in extremely low-traffic situations, in which the risk of accident is, similarly, low. In high traffic situations we have stoplights, and it is in high traffic situations that the most danger occurs by far. Further, though you may not be looking past someone, you are a greater distance from them-- and you could be looking past a car, which fact is harder to lean past than your mother in law.

The comparison of different countries is fundamentally flawed, because there is more than one variable to how violent a country is or how dangerous it's roads are. In order to truly declare left-hand to be superior, you would have to find a country which once had right side traffic, and, in a short amount of time, with no other significant societal upheavals going on, have it switch to left side traffic, and it's statistics improve. This is the only empirical evidence which would be capable of establishing such, and after all, you assumed the burden of proof. The opposite (switching from left to right and experiencing a negative effect on traffic safety) would not be valid, since the very act of change could be assumed to have a negative effect on traffic, and therefore bias the comparison.

"2. We are taught from a very young age that when crossing the road we must first look to the left (right-hand system) and right (left-hand system). Thus, looking to the right first is a well learned practice by the time we grow up. In the left-hand system this makes great foundation to deal with the right-hand rule. We already appreciate the significance of the right-hand side."

Both sides are significant when crossing, thus, both are appreciated just fine.

And since when can people already on a roundabout only approach from one side?

The hand on the steering wheel is largely irrelevant, considering how steering with one-hand is a no-no in bad situations whichever hand it is. Far more important is to get whatever you are doing with the other hand done with so you can have both hands on the steering wheel again- and for this, it is far better to use the dominant hand for the other things. Further, the more coordinated hand you use for such things, the less you have to actually be able to look at them- your muscle memory can be sufficient. I'd rather have my left hand on the steering wheel and my eyes on the road than my right hand on the steering wheel and my eyes on whatever I'm doing with my left hand-- and if it's the left doing it, my eyes are needed.

Drive throughs have essentially zero danger when you are stopped to grab the goods, so they are wholly irrelevant, unless you want exercise to grab the food, in which case twisting your body is far superior.

If you are evacuating a vehicle sideways, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. Anyone who can't turn and exit the vehicle in one motion, seeing what they're exiting into, isn't physically capable of surviving such an incident anyway.

As for the availability of AK-47s-- just because something isn't legally available doesn't mean it isn't available. And if fewer people have it, your country is all the more vulnerable to a nutjob criminal cruising along the interstate and firing away.
Debate Round No. 2
Lightkeeper

Con

I thank my opponent for his response. I will address his points in their order.

1. My opponent says that the right hand rule is used in low-traffic situations and therefore the risk of accident is similarly low.
Respectfully, while such intersections might in fact be generally low-traffic ones, this does not detract from the possibility of high traffic at any one time. Secondly, I was not merely saying that this is a safety factor. The fact is that having to lean over a passenger to see if there is a vehicle to which we have to give way is an inconvenience.
My opponent then says that we are a further distance from the vehicle to which we have to give way. Assuming that he is correct (how does he know how far the other car is?), being a greater distance from an oncoming vehicle is actually an advantage. It gives us more time to react and to slow down or stop so as to give way.
Having to look past another vehicle (if one is oncoming from the opposite direction) is a valid point. However, since both you and the other vehicle are in motion, the other vehicle will be in your way for a split second. You will know if one is oncoming and will have notice of it. This is contrasted to the mother in law, who, once she enters your car, is a more permanent feature. She's there for the duration of the trip.
Finally, the low-traffic aspect does not change the fact that we have to have a good look at the right hand side (past the mother in law / passenger). My opponent is right that chances are there will be no car there. But we still HAVE TO have a good look every time. At the same time, the chances of a vehicle coming in the other direction and blocking our view (even for that split-second) are minute indeed, given my opponent's own point that these are low-traffic situations.

2. The comparison between different countries is not fundamentally flawed. The comparison was used to confront my opponent's point that left-hand traffic has with it higher incidence of Road Rage. I have presented some data pointing that there is no evidence of that and that in fact the contrary appears to be true. I was not using this data to argue the advantage of left-hand traffic per se. My opponent presented no data whatsoever to support his theory that Road Rage is a higher risk in left-hand traffic.

3. Both sides are significant when crossing. That's true. However, immediate danger is always coming from one side or the other (right side in left-hand traffic and left side in right-hand traffic). A firmly in-built appreciation of the right-side danger in left-hand traffic systems is consistent with the right-hand rule. In the right-hand traffic system, there is no such consistency. We just follow our well-established response (sinc childhood). "Right-side, check right-side". Given that (unfortunately) most people do little thinking while driving (we are creatures of habit), this is actually important.

4.* "And since when can people already on a roundabout only approach from one side?"
Since the invention of roundabouts. I quote from wikipedia:
"All vehicles circulate around the central island in the same direction, and this direction is decided by whether traffic drives to the right or the left. In left-hand traffic countries the circulation is clockwise; In those that drive to the right, it is counterclockwise. " (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

5. Let us consider this. I stated that in left-hand traffic systems, the driver of a manual vehicle retains his right (stronger) hand on the wheel while changing gears. I said this gives us more power to steer away and quickly react in case of danger. My opponent seeks to rebut this by saying that steering with one hand in bad situations is a no-no. The problem with his contention is that, when driving a manual car, we HAVE TO change gears. In right-hand traffic we HAVE TO DO THIS WITH THE RIGHT HAND and we HAVE TO steer with our left. There simply is no other option. I say it's important to have the dominant hand controlling the direction of the vehicle, especially if an emergency should arise.
He further says that it is better to use the dominant hand to do other things so as to quickly get them done and get both hands back on the wheel. If he is indeed referring to such tasks that would need concentration if done with the left hand then he is referring to tasks that should NEVER BE DONE while driving in the first place. Aside from the rule that we are to always (when possible) have both hands on the wheel, it is paramount that we do not perform tasks that can't be done without using any substantial concentration at all. I suggest that the simple task of turning on the radio or opening the ashtray can be done equally with the left or right hand without much concentration. Anything else should involve stopping the car and not be done while in motion.
I firmly remain with my contention that SAFETY COMES FIRST and the importance of having the dominant hand steer the car at all times by far outweighs any claimed advantages of being able to open the ashtray or change the radio station 0.05 of a second faster through the use of the dominant hand. My opponent has not given any examples of a task that could be done thoughtlessly with the right hand while requiring concentration if done with the left. I suggest such tasks do not exist. Some complex tasks may, however, require less concentration if done with the dominant hand, that's true. And those should not be done at all while driving. SAFETY FIRST, ladies and gentlemen.
I make one final point on this. Having the dominant hand available to perform non-driving related tasks can in fact encourage us to perform such tasks. This in itself is dangerous and it encourages us to break road rules (both hands on the wheel, remember?)

6. Drive-through is indeed zero danger. But my resolution is not limited to safety. My resolution is general and includes also convenience.

7. My opponent says that evacuating a vehicle sideways is wrong. He suggests that when we have milliseconds to save our life we should start by turning our entire body to the side and then jump out of the car on both feet. I must say this is an interesting (if unheard of previously) exit strategy.

8. My comment about guns was not meant to be taken seriously. I did not consider my opponent's AK47 argument to be serious either. I believe it was a metaphor for road rage. However, my opponent has responded to me on this point and I thank him for that. Note however that I did not mention anything about legality. I could find sources about the numbers of guns available to the public in various countries. However, I do not believe availability of firearms is relevant in this debate and road rage generally has been addressed in a previous point.

In conclusion, left-hand traffic is better, albeit marginally. It provides consistency between the right-hand rule and the fact that imminent danger at any intersection is usually on the right hand side. This is important. Humans are creatures of habit. In left-hand traffic we also do not have to look over the passenger when obeying the right-hand rule. Roundabouts are consistent with the right-hand rule. The system also ensures that the dominant hand is ALWAYS on the wheel and it allows us to exit the vehicle with the dominant foot first. It is more convenient because we use our dominant hand to handle money and goods in drive-through.

I did assume the onus and I say I have discharged that onus in no less than six aspects.

I ask that you cast your prejudices aside (if you have any) and vote Con.

nb: useful comparison need not require a country that has moved from one system to the other. It could simply use people who have substantially driven in both systems. I am one of those. But I will not give personal evidence in this debate.
Ragnar_Rahl

Pro

"
Having to look past another vehicle (if one is oncoming from the opposite direction) is a valid point. However, since both you and the other vehicle are in motion, the other vehicle will be in your way for a split second."
And there can't be multiple vehicles?

"At the same time, the chances of a vehicle coming in the other direction and blocking our view (even for that split-second) are minute indeed, given my opponent's own point that these are low-traffic situations."
The odds are the same for your mentioned disadvantage coming to pass and for mine. It would appear they cancel one another out.

"
2. The comparison between different countries is not fundamentally flawed. The comparison was used to confront my opponent's point that left-hand traffic has with it higher incidence of Road Rage. I have presented some data pointing that there is no evidence of that and that in fact the contrary appears to be true."
Any data in which other variables than the one you are looking at are not accounted for is fundamentally flawed. It's a basic rule of statistics, and science.
Another flaw is that the data is self-reported.

"My opponent presented no data whatsoever to support his theory that Road Rage is a higher risk in left-hand traffic."
I presented the fact that one can see the face of the other driver more easily, and, more importantly, once rage happens, the use of weapons is easier.

"
3. Both sides are significant when crossing. That's true. However, immediate danger is always coming from one side or the other (right side in left-hand traffic and left side in right-hand traffic). A firmly in-built appreciation of the right-side danger in left-hand traffic systems is consistent with the right-hand rule. In the right-hand traffic system, there is no such consistency. We just follow our well-established response (sinc childhood). "Right-side, check right-side". Given that (unfortunately) most people do little thinking while driving (we are creatures of habit), this is actually important."
Without constant reinforcement of having to look to both sides, whenever danger comes from another side it will be all the more unexpected and therefore all the more harmful. If humans are creatures of habit, you want them to develop the most exhaustively useful habits possible- not encourage them to use only the habits that are useful when things are going right.

"4.* "And since when can people already on a roundabout only approach from one side?"
Since the invention of roundabouts. I quote from wikipedia:
"All vehicles circulate around the central island in the same direction, and this direction is decided by whether traffic drives to the right or the left. In left-hand traffic countries the circulation is clockwise; In those that drive to the right, it is counterclockwise. " (http://en.wikipedia.org......)"

Um... clockwise and counterclockwise both include both left and right. That's how circulation works. It goes, ultimately, in both directions.

"The problem with his contention is that, when driving a manual car, we HAVE TO change gears."
In the middle of steering in bad situations? Isn't the changing of gears supposed to be done primarily when you stop, and when you're going straight? Least that's how I was taught it works...

"I suggest that the simple task of turning on the radio or opening the ashtray can be done equally with the left or right hand without much concentration."
Not at equal speed with equal accuracy.

"
7. My opponent says that evacuating a vehicle sideways is wrong. He suggests that when we have milliseconds to save our life we should start by turning our entire body to the side and then jump out of the car on both feet. I must say this is an interesting (if unheard of previously) exit strategy.
"
Unheard of? It's a basic principle of how to go down if you have to go down fast, taught in most martial arts- take the impact with a roll, not head on.
And I did not say both feet. Turn and lead out with your inside foot, you'll have more momentum to get away from the car, which is probably your goal if you are evacuating.

"
6. Drive-through is indeed zero danger. But my resolution is not limited to safety. My resolution is general and includes also convenience."
Many people are obese in the modern world. The more you drive the more you are obese, especially if you go through drive-throughs. You might as well AT LEAST burn the calories of turning your body to the window if you're going to be going through drive-throughs. Such is a benefit, however small.

"
8. My comment about guns was not meant to be taken seriously. I did not consider my opponent's AK47 argument to be serious either. I believe it was a metaphor for road rage. However, my opponent has responded to me on this point and I thank him for that. Note however that I did not mention anything about legality. I could find sources about the numbers of guns available to the public in various countries."
There are sources, available to the public, that keep track of all guns, legal and nonlegal?
Then how do black markets survive?

"
nb: useful comparison need not require a country that has moved from one system to the other. It could simply use people who have substantially driven in both systems."
Anecdotal evidence is not generally ideal :D.
Debate Round No. 3
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
Pro = Con. Con = Pro. I had it in my head that the resolution was "Left-side traffic is better than right-side traffic." I gotta keep my eyes peeled!
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
You don't drive? How come?

BTW I'm pretty sure FR did get his Pro and Con the wrong way around.... The 6 points and the road rage in his comment make that pretty clear :P
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
The funny thing is, I don't drive, so I didn't expect to win this :D
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
KRFournier...
From the text of your comment it would seem that by Pro you mean Con and vice versa.. or am I wrong?
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
Pro offered 6 points of contention in favor of the resolution, supported by reliable resources. Con offered one point of contention against it. Con's rebuttals of Pro's six points were backed primarily by assumption whereas Pro reliably refuted Con's road rage contention. I voted Pro most convincing argument.

Language: Pro (I had trouble separating quotations from rebuttals in Con's writings)
Conduct: Pro (Pro's contentions were serious and Con's were less so)
Argument: Pro
Sources: Pro (Pro offered hard numbers whereas Con offered assumptions)
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
Hmmmmm no.
Let's rehash:
1. I said that roundabouts are simpler in left-hand traffic. More consistent, easier, simpler.
2. You say that simpler is bad because it doesn't keep people on their feet.
3. I reply that the simpler the better. I add that people who drive are often of low intelligence, that people drift away anyway, that road rules must be kept simple and consistent.
4. You argue that it's a bad thing to have low-intelligence people driving and you further say that simple road rules are the reason why low-intelligence people do drive
5. I say that what you're proposing in 4 above is a legal change and we're not here to argue law but practicalities. I add that in fact you yourself have accused me of arguing law, which implies that law is not and should not be aprt of this debate.

My response to your most recent post:
Yes you need to be prepared for people breaking laws. Doesn't change my assertions though. Left hand traffic makes it easier and more comfortable to obey the rules.

I again repeat that you need to be alert at all times.

But that does not change my argument about marginal advantage :)
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"Absolutely not. I was arguing about the systems as they are. The debate was never about how a system might be changed"
The debate never specified that. If x results in increased likelihood of y, and y is good, then x is better a result. Right-side driving would, as you have demonstrated, result in increased likelihood (due to increased reason) of getting stupid people off the road :D.

"But you already said we're not arguing about laws."
You are equivocating massively. When I said that, it was in the context of- certain things will happen illegally in the midst of traffic, and you need to be prepared for them. This context, however, has to do with what will result in a change in laws about who is on the road in the first place.
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
Absolutely not. I was arguing about the systems as they are. The debate was never about how a system might be changed. I personally might believe that no one under the age of 21 should be allowed behind the wheel (for argument's sake, that is). That's because their rates of accidents are so much higher. But that's also beside the point.
The systems are as they are.

No, the first premise is not helping the bad idea along. Now you're suggesting we make road rules more complicated so that we preclude less intelligent people from driving? Making it difficult for them but allowing them to drive will not stop them. It will only make our roads less safe. If you want to preclude low-intelligence people from driving, you need to change the laws. But you already said we're not arguing about laws.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
I say the rules need to be as simple and consistent as possible. We allow people with truly low mental abilities to drive. "
Ya think maybe the second sentence might be a bad idea, and the first premise might help that bad idea along? :P
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
Hmmm.... You're suggesting that the more quirky and inconsistent the rules the better because it'll keep our drivers on their toes?

I say the rules need to be as simple and consistent as possible. We allow people with truly low mental abilities to drive. People get confused as it is. They get mental blanks.

The more simple, the more natural, the more consistent the better and safer.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by mastajake 8 years ago
mastajake
LightkeeperRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by knick-knack 8 years ago
knick-knack
LightkeeperRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Vote Placed by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
LightkeeperRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70