2016-09-03 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

Exactly 49 years ago, 1967-09-03, Sweden changed the rules for driving, from the left-hand side of the road to the right-hand side. It had already been the subject of a referendum held in 1955, where 82,9 % of all votes were in favour of status quo, i.e. continue to drive of the left-hand side. But the referendum was not decisive, only consultative, and external pressure of unifying the “right side” for driving eventually had the Swedish parliament decide on a change.

Already one year before the switch would take place, the actions started to teach the population how they should behave while driving after “H-dagen” (‘H Day’, where H stands for “höger”, the Swedish word for ‘right’). And thus the switch itself went very smoothly, no major accidents. Even though I was too young to have a driver’s license myself, I still remember waking up in the morning and seeing how the cars started to move from the left side of the road to the right one at 05:00 in the morning, and then at 06:00 was finally given the “go” signal. Below are some interesting images from the switch, complete articles can be found in references # 1 and 2 below.

Dagen H

Six illustrations related to the Swedish left-to-right switch. In the upper row, from left to right: – Propaganda on a Stockholm bus appealing to vote NO in the referendum in 1955; – The people managing the switch showing the sign with a big H, which was placed in thousands of places in Swedish roads; – Kungsgatan in Stockholm during the switch. In the lower row, from left to right: – The official symbol of the switch; – Gloves to remind the driver to drive on the RIGHT side; – This road sign ceased to exist at the switch, it meant that the earlier limited velocity now was invalid, thus imposing no formal limits to the velocity, but after the switch there was no more free velocity on Swedish highways .

And so you may ask, what does the following photo have in common with traffic? Well, it was taken in an EU country that still insists on driving on the left side of the road. No, it is not Britain, but one of its former colonies, Malta, located in the Mediterranean sea. My friend Rikke just returned from a marvellous vacation there, and besides this beautiful photo, she has promised us to deliver more like that one. We very much look forward to it, in the meantime here are our warmest thanks to her!

Malta2

A tempting scenery from Pembroke, Malta. It is located 10 km North of Valeta, Malta’s capital. Photo taken by Rikke Wilhelmsen on 2016-08-22.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Day H

2: Högertrafikomläggningen

+: What did you learn in school today ?

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