Samoa switches from driving on the right to driving on the left


Blackleaf
#1
The tiny Pacific nation of Samoa has switched from driving on the right to driving on the left.

It has joined countries such as Britain, India, South Africa and Japan who also drive on the left.

During the switchover, alcohol was banned to reduce accidents.

The switchover has happened because it is easier for Samoa to import cars from nearby Australia and New Zealand - who also drive on the left (so the cars' steering wheels are on the right) - than it is from far away Europe, where the majority of the countries drive on the right and the steering wheel is on the left, and from the US, where driving is also on the right.

There are 76 nations who drive on the left, many of them former British colonies. Some people claim the British drive on the left because our road regulations were originally based on horse transport. Horses historically kept to the left. Some claim it was to allow riders to have their sword hand (usually the right hand) closest to an approaching enemy. But it is more likely to be that riders traditionally mount and dismount horses from the left. Therefore, travelling on the right would have meant riders dismounted in the path of oncoming horses and carriages. Britain then exported left hand side of the road travelling to its colonies.

Napoleon, meanwhile, an enemy of Britain, introduced right hand side of the road travelling to the rest of Europe.

Samoa may have swicthed from driving on the right to the left, but Britain switching from the left to the right is less likely. Due to the fact that Britain is much larger than Samoa, it would be a logistical nightmare. It is unlikely that Britain will ever switch to driving on the right.

It has also been proven that driving on the left is safer for right-handed drivers, who make up the majority of drivers. That's maybe a reason why Britain's roads are amongst the safest in the world.

Samoa in 6am swap from driving on right to left

By Mark Ellis
9/09/2009
The Daily Mirror




Samoa yesterday became the first country ever to switch from driving on the right to the left.

From 6am the South Pacific island nation changed lanes - as locals marked the historic event by honking their horns. The government had already announced a two-day public holiday to reduce the number of initial road users.

And alcohol sales were banned for three days to prevent accidents.

The switch comes so Samoa no longer has to pay the high price of importing left-hand drive cars all the way from Europe and America.

It will be able to bring right-hand vehicles in from Australia and New Zealand, which is much closer to home. Despite predictions of traffic chaos, the changeover went smoothly with no accidents reported in the first hours.

In the capital Apia there were cheers and applause as traffic moved through the streets, watched by policemen at checkpoints.

However angry locals blocked roads for several hours in one village in protest. And a group called People Against Switching Sides failed in a last-minute legal attempt to halt the change.

The last countries to swap sides, going left to right, were Nigeria, Ghana and Yemen in the 70s.

COUNTRIES WHERE YOU DRIVE ON THE LEFT:

About 76 countries, many former British colonies. They include Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Guyana, Suriname, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan.

COUNTRIES WHERE YOU DRIVE ON THE RIGHT:

Driving on the right is the norm in the United States, Canada, the rest of Europe and about 161 other countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zaire. In China everyone drives on the right - apart from people in Hong Kong and Macau.
************************************************** ***

History really is on Britain's side

We drive on the left because our road regulations were originally based on horse transport. Horses historically kept to the left. Some claim it was to allow riders to have their sword hand closest to an approaching enemy.

But it is more likely to be that riders traditionally mount and dismount from the left. Travelling on the right hand side of the road would have forced a rider to dismount into the path of oncoming horses and carriages.

The first legal reference in Britain to an order for traffic to remain on the left was in 1756 on London Bridge.

Napoleon, above, spearheaded the continental move towards riding on the right - possibly because he was left-handed.

This idea might be feasible in a small country like Samoa and could have some benefits.

But converting our roads to make motorists drive on the right rather than the left would be a massive, complex and dangerous process.

It would be a logistical nightmare with every road sign, roundabout and junction having to change. Speed cameras would have to be swapped round. The costs would be huge, so it is unlikely to ever happen.

mirror.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Sep 10th, 2009 at 10:49 AM..
 
TenPenny
#2
New Brunswick switched from left to right back in the 1920s.
 
AnnaG
#3
Can we say "mass confusion causing death and destruction"?
 
#juan
#4
In B.C. some of us drive in the middle.....
 
AnnaG
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

In B.C. some of us drive in the middle.....

That's for sure. Another thing cops don't seem to care about charging people with violations for is crassing double-solid lines when they cut corners. And it isn't just flatlanders trying to straighten out the roads either. People in BC move into the on-coming lanes when they cut corners.
 

Similar Threads

3
Dirty Driving
by Said1 | Dec 9th, 2008
4
Driving more?
by CBC News | Nov 6th, 2008
18
10
Bell is driving me nuts...
by lindenfan1 | Jul 21st, 2005