Ride, drive as verbs (transitive and intransitive) and as nouns may both involve the idea of moving in or being carried along in a vehicle or conveyance or upon the back of something.
The basic meaning of ride is a being borne along in or upon something; when this idea is uppermost, it makes little difference who or what controls the animal, the vehicle, or mechanism by which one is borne along; thus, one rides or rides on a horse, a bicycle, or a motorcycle when, mounted upon it, one controls its operation or movements, but a woman seated on a pillion behind the saddle may also be said to ride the horse, and a person in the rear seat of a tandem bicycle may be said to ride the bicycle, but a person in a sidecar of a motorcycle rides in the sidecar (not rides the motorcycle).
Sometimes ride, the transitive verb, is preferred when the management of the horse and vehicle is also implied, and ride, the intransitive verb, when merely the being mounted upon a moving horse or vehicle is suggested <when, he rides his horse his small daughter usually rides on it with him>
The basic meaning of drive (see MOVE 1 ) is a causing to move along; the term therefore primarily refers to the action of an agent that controls the movement of a vehicle whether it is drawn by an animal or self-propelled. There is usually a further distinction between ride and drive when movement in a vehicle or conveyance is implied.
Ride usually suggests movement in a vehicle (as a train, a bus, or a stranger’s automobile) which is not in any sense under one’s control.
Drive often suggests movement in a horse-drawn or motor vehicle the course of which is in some way or in some degree under one’s control, whether one is the actual driver or one (as an employer, patron, or guest) whose wishes the actual driver observes.