Translation:In China, cars drive on the right side.
can someone explain to me what the point of 靠 is in this sentence? why not just say 汽车开在右边 instead?
靠 here means "lean to". Of course a car is not a person but saying cars are driven leaning to the right is okay in Chinese, and has the same effect as saying 汽车开在右边.
May this character also imply "tend towards"?
Just to make the reply more complete, when 靠 is used in an instruction, it means a request to move in that direction. e.g. when you are a passenger in a car and you hear the ambulance siren on your way, you can ask the driver "靠右!" so that the ambulance can pass through (in a left driving country).
If my understanding is correct "tend towards" would mean the car is actually straying to the right; then such meaning is not implied. 靠右 only means the relative position of the car is closer to the right margin rather than in the middle of the road; the driving direction is still straight ahead.
"In China, you drive on the right side" or "In China, cars are driven on the right side" should be acceptable.
Ah, I understand the frustration with the limitation of acceptable translations. But we have to remember that this course is pretty new and will need a lot of refining yet. So I wish you the patience to keep hammering away at those reports, just like I do. (And remember the cost is only effort not money. Pretty good, eh?)