Over the last nine or so months I have spent a great deal of time on the right hand side of the white stripe of the couple of highways that criss cross the valley where I live. This is a rural setting, the towns that exist here are spread out and barely qualify as such. More like hamlets or villages most of the time. There is a great deal of agriculture as well. All of these things contribute to an exceptional concentration of American made vehicles which usually pass me on the left.
One thing I have noticed is that there are no American made vehicles that have an exhaust system which exits on the left. American cars and trucks almost universally blow their recently combusted fuel wastes to the right of the rear wheel.
Now as a cyclists who is dependent on the rarified air of the Colorado high country all it takes is a couple of heavy duty trucks blowing car-farts in your face for you to notice this particular design feature. Quite a few Northern European and Japanese manufactured cars, trucks and vans put a straight exit exhaust on the left hand side of the vehicle. This puts at least 5 and hopefully 8 to 10 feet (see 3 foot law) between you and the cloud of nastiness and tends to reduce the concentration quite a bit.
My question concerns the decision that was made, seemingly universally, here in the states by a bevy of automotive designers. Why the right hand side? Why curve the tail pipe to the side of the road? It seems, to me at least, a detail that could quickly and easily be remedied and one that would save frustration and health of cyclists and pedestrians in at least the portion of the world with left hand steering.
Cough, cough, gag, cough …