Why is it that car driving is on either left or right side? Why isn't it in center like bike?

Wouldn't it give a judgmental position to driver if the driving seat is in center like bike has?

It would be easy to judge the car width right if driver is driving from center seat. Just exploring why ?

  • 2
    McLaren F1 has a centered driver's seat: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLaren_F1 Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 7:18
  • but i'm generally speaking about all cars,
    – Harshith
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 7:25
  • This other question asked the same. As far as I know the reason is to look into the center of the road to be aware of cars coming from the opposite direction.
    – Alvaro
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 9:37
  • Plenty of info in this question too: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/94399/… Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 9:41
  • Pretty soon the word 'Driver' will be meaningless, like asking the gender of a Computer. Then the whole "Driver's side" thing will not be a thing anymore. We will just be asking why some countries have cars driving on the left and some on the right. (Like why some languages are left-to-right and some are right-to-left. I am sure there is/was a really good reason...)
    – user67695
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:03

4 Answers 4


It's about user experience. car makers do not want user to crawl all the way to middle to take his driver seat :). also judgmental position to driver you are talking about, it only makes sense in case of bikes or fighter planes since they have only one front seat which is a driver seat.

also car's have 2 seats one of which is a driver seat, if it is kept in center then where is the room for other seat?!. if you want to take that extra seat out again then it wont remain a car it becomes an auto rickshaw with lot of space wasted.

so keeping it either left or right makes efficient use of space and gives best user experience for both driver and the passenger sitting next to him.


being in the centre, while good for driving forward on a less crowded highway, would be difficult when in high traffic or parking or reversing.

By being on the left or right hand side, the driver is able to get a more accurate approximation of space at least towards one side compared to have to approximate the distant toward both sides if they were in the middle. Again this would be more useful for high traffic and parking.

at the same time it is about efficiency as well. centre placement would only be practical if a the vehicle was one column like a bike.

  • There's also a historical argument (it's based on the design of horse-drawn carriages), a safety argument (it's possible to make more visible hand signals if you're close enough to the window to stick your arm out) and an economical argument (you can fit more people in the vehicle) but I don't have any sources for these. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 10:16
  • "By being on the left or right hand side, the driver is able to get a more accurate approximation of space at least towards one side" - and in turn, a less accurate one towards the other side? In particular for parking along the road, sitting on the street center side actually means sitting farther away from where the driver has to pay most attention, namely the curbside where the other cars are parked. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 11:42

When you have driving seat at the center of the car, you will have disadvantages more than advantages.

• Passenger space for the front seat will be congested both the side • It is difficult to watch the mirror

• Over-taking the might be risky

• Driver cannot see his back view

• Spaces will be wasted unwantedly

• Gear box and hand break implementation would be problem

• Accessing window is painful

• Dashboard space will be wasted

• Audio & GPS system cannot be placed properly

• Getting in to the driver seat will be painful

• Parking the car without sensors will be difficult

• There are so many to list out...

  • Various of these reasons need some explanation to make sense. For instance, why would "Over-taking the might be risky", "Dashboard space will be wasted", "Audio & GPS system cannot be placed properly", and "Parking the car without sensors will be difficult" be the case? It seems many of these reasons are exclusively bound to the car designs we are used to. Even "Driver cannot see his back view" is not strictly true if we do not insist on placing mirrors exactly as we do now. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 11:45
  • I am talking about usual 4-5 seater car. not the 2 / 3 seater car. Lets say car width is 1.7 mm and driver sits on the center of the car. When the heavy truck is in front of him around 15 meter away (Track 1), it will be difficult for him to look at the track 2 easily. He has to bend down and see if any one is coming / going in Track 2. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 12:39
  • Yes.. i agree that there is always better ways to design it, when we agree to design the car with center seat driven car:) Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 12:42

I'm pretty sure that cars took a lot of their initial design from carriages. A carriage's front seat is often a bench where at least two people can sit thus allowing the passengers to interact with each other without the need of the driver to turn his head around (if you ride a bike in a line you know what I'm talking about - if you don't turn your head around the sound will probably not reach the person riding behind you) and thus reducing the chances of an accident. Having someone next to you in the front also allowed easier defense and also easier switch between passenger and driver if the driver go tired. The back was reserved for other passengers that the driver didn't need to interact that often with or some sort of goods/luggage.

The first cars didn't need any safety belts due to their low speed but as time went by and the engines improved the decision of having a bench-like seat at the front had to be reconsidered - the driver might still want to be able to have a passenger in front next to him but at the same time strapping two or more people with a single belt didn't seem like a good idea (again - reduced safety).

Having a single seat in front while the car offers plenty of space for another seat is a waste. Cars after all need to be efficient (although what we see nowadays is far from it - a single person driving a 4-seats car back and forth which is why I don't like cars in general).

In addition a central placement of the seat in a car that is large enough greatly reduces the visibility of the driver. As you know based on the side of the road the vehicles are driving on the seat is places closer to the right or left side. This allows the driver too see much better what's behind his car when turning and/or overtaking. You may have noticed that even passenger carriages with a roof have the driver's bench elevated so that he can have a better visibility to what's behind him. The fact that such carriages didn't have (and it's still rare too see one) mirrors made the elevation crucial for the placement of the bench.

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