"In China, cars drive on the right side."
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It seems to me that your confusion comes down to 2 elements. First off, "开车" is not a single word. It is not a verb meaning "to drive" or "driving". "开车" is a phrase consisting of a verb plus an object. In this context, "开” means "to drive" (in other contexts 开 can mean "to opperate" a machine, "to turn on" an electric device, or to "open" something). ”车” means car or vehicle. (汽车 means a car with an engine, ie not a horse drawn cart).
Subject + 开车 means that the Subject is driving (开) the car (车). So, saying ”汽车开车” means that a car is driving another car.
Secondly, about the overall sentence structure, the key thing to remember is that prepositional phrases come before the verbs they modify (with only a few irregular verb exceptions such as 住). So to translate "drive on the right", "on the right" (靠右边) has to come directly before "drive" (开).
I'm trying to find a way to explain why 汽车 comes before 靠右边开. The most important reason to me is that this is simply the way directional movements are phrased, as Nasu said above. However, I can think of two points that may help you understand the grammatical reasoning. 1) If you put 车 after 开, then you would need to put a subject before 开 to say who is driving the car. 2) I think that the grammar of this Chinese sentence is best understood as a topic-comment sentence. This is a common sentence structure in Chinese. The topic is "cars" (汽车), and the comment about cars is that they "are driven on the right" (靠右边开).
This structure is complicated by the location phrase 在中国 at the start of the sentence. (This might be considered its own, even larger umbrella topic.)
开车, like other compound verb-object phrases, can be positioned dependently on the meaning of the sentence. Here are few examples:
- 我没迟到，多亏了你开车送我。: I am not late. Thank you for the ride.
- 他开车比你小心: He drives more carefully than you.
For the second question, I do not know how to clearly write the response for this, but I can say all of that come from experience and understanding each basic component of the phrase. There is no grammatical structure that clearly explains the origin of 开车 since this is the part of the conversation natives often use everyday in their daily lives to discuss about driving. As long as the phrase is well-sound to the native, the phrase becomes the part of our daily vocabulary list. :)
在中国，汽车靠右行驶。is how Baidu Translate gives it. As in so many other arenas, the Chinese are light years ahead of the U.S. with this free translator, although, given the current rabid, racist, anti-Chinese hysteria gripping the uneducated in the U.S. lately, it may be a little difficult to find a download. It is worth the search when you find it. A search for it in the Baidu browser will take you right to it. There are some sites in the U.S. with dummy APK's of it that don't work. The Baidu IME keyboard, also free, is pretty good also. ヾ(❀╹◡╹)ﾉﾞ❀~