Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Samoan Traffic Switch a Non-event

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the upcoming Samoan switch to driving on the left. Well, that switch has occurred, apparently with about as large an effect as the swine flu (or avian flu, or pretty much any other flu since 1919). A news report of the significant non-event is on the right. Traffic was halted at 6am for ten minutes nationwide, then at 6:10 everyone took off on the other side of the road.

The biggest remaining problem seems to be with the buses because they must be modified to have doors on the opposite (now sidewalk) side. Apparently much of the bus transportation is privately provided, similar to taxis, so this is a cost that individual operators will have to bear.

Once again, adult humans seem to be handling the situation like adults, although the Samoan government has declared a two day holiday and a three day ban on alcohol to help ease the transition.

It is interesting to read the comments in this BBC article where people from around the world express their opinions about the change. Granted, it is heavily filtered, so only the more interesting comments come up, but the one at the top of the list rather stings, as it is from the only Samoan quoted:

Switching to the left is going the British way. When America is sinking as a nation, why follow the American way. Most cars here are gas guzzlers and it is very difficult to import the petrol we need. We should definitely move to the left hand-side driving and get more economic cars. I support the government's dicision. - Upolu Apia, Olosega, Samoa

According to Wikipedia, there are 239 worldwide traffic jourisdictions (countries, territories, and dependencies), of which  76 now drive on the left.

A uniform driving pattern within each jurisdiction was agreed to at the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (and I'll bet all you Hogan's Heroes fans thought all they talked about in Geneva was prisoners of war). In the past some countries have had driving on both sides depending in the region (Canada up to the 1920's, for example), but now only one has this issue: China, primarily right-hand drive, with left-hand drive still in place in Hong Kong and Macau.

Otago Daily Times
Samoa Live News

1 comment:

  1. Samoa is the first country in 40 years to switch driving sides www.greatecs.com