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Old September 8th, 2009, 04:39 AM   #1
Verso
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Samoa switches to left-hand driving

Road test: Samoa switches to left-hand driving

Three-day alcohol ban and two-day holiday begin as nation becomes first in 40 years to change traffic direction

Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 September 2009 13.04 BST

Residents prayed for calm as Samoa prepared today to become the first country in nearly 40 years to switch driving from one side of the road to the other.

Critics have predicted traffic chaos in the Pacific island nation of 180,000, and the country is banning alcohol sales for three days as a precaution.

The switch from driving on the right side of the road to the left takes effect from 6am local time today. It is being ushered in with a two-day national holiday to reduce traffic.

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, the country's largest denomination, offered blessings yesterday to help the switch go smoothly.

"It's a must – people have to be blessed before we come to the changes," said the Rev Iutisone Salevao.

The government wants to bring Samoa into line with Australia and New Zealand to encourage some of the 170,000 expatriate Samoans there to ship used cars – with steering wheels on the right side – home to relatives.

Opponents, however, have accused the government of pushing the change through without adequately preparing drivers.

The prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said the government had widened roads, added new road markings and signs and installed traffic-slowing speed humps on key roads on the nation's two main islands of Upolu and Savai'i.

"The time is right for us," he said yesterday. He said he had driven on the left in London. "It took me only three minutes and I knew how to manoeuvre," he told Television New Zealand.

The government will continue to allow vehicles with left-side steering wheels after the changeover.

Samoa will be the first country in decades to switch the flow of traffic. Iceland and Sweden did it in the 1960s, and Nigeria, Ghana and Yemen in the 1970s.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009...g-left-changes


Interesting, I hope for some videos.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 04:46 AM   #2
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I always found driving on the left side retarded just like writing from right to left. It's just unnatural.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 06:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verso View Post
Road test: Samoa switches to left-hand driving

Three-day alcohol ban and two-day holiday begin as nation becomes first in 40 years to change traffic direction

Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 September 2009 13.04 BST

Residents prayed for calm as Samoa prepared today to become the first country in nearly 40 years to switch driving from one side of the road to the other.

Critics have predicted traffic chaos in the Pacific island nation of 180,000, and the country is banning alcohol sales for three days as a precaution.

The switch from driving on the right side of the road to the left takes effect from 6am local time today. It is being ushered in with a two-day national holiday to reduce traffic.

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, the country's largest denomination, offered blessings yesterday to help the switch go smoothly.

"It's a must – people have to be blessed before we come to the changes," said the Rev Iutisone Salevao.

The government wants to bring Samoa into line with Australia and New Zealand to encourage some of the 170,000 expatriate Samoans there to ship used cars – with steering wheels on the right side – home to relatives.

Opponents, however, have accused the government of pushing the change through without adequately preparing drivers.

The prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said the government had widened roads, added new road markings and signs and installed traffic-slowing speed humps on key roads on the nation's two main islands of Upolu and Savai'i.

"The time is right for us," he said yesterday. He said he had driven on the left in London. "It took me only three minutes and I knew how to manoeuvre," he told Television New Zealand.

The government will continue to allow vehicles with left-side steering wheels after the changeover.

Samoa will be the first country in decades to switch the flow of traffic. Iceland and Sweden did it in the 1960s, and Nigeria, Ghana and Yemen in the 1970s.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009...g-left-changes


Interesting, I hope for some videos.
Having driven on both sides, I can honestly say that driving on the right is a lot easier, once you get used to it.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 07:21 AM   #4
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lol what are the pros and cons of either side. there are none. it's just wherever you're brought up which makes it feel natural or unnatural.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 07:25 AM   #5
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Why would a country want to change from good to worst? Are they punshing their people or am I wrong and left hand driving is actually better.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 10:21 AM   #6
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For Samoa it means that they can import cars from Australia and New Zealand, with the steering wheels on the right, which is a lot easier for them of course.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 02:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OEincorparated View Post
Why would a country want to change from good to worst? Are they punshing their people or am I wrong and left hand driving is actually better.
Did you even bother reading the article? The answer's pretty clear. Use your eyes.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 07:10 PM   #8
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I have driven on both, the right and the left, and there is absolutely NO difference. That's providing you have a car with the steering wheel on the side that's designed for whichever system you're using.

There might be some advantages to using the left hand side for driving for a poor country like Samoa. It is harder for rich countries that drive on the left to sell their used right hand drive cars as the world market for those is much smaller. That's why used cars in the UK are significantly cheaper than those in f.e. neighbouring France. Samoans will definitely end up getting cheaper cars now, which is good news for them.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #9
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/8243141.stm

They don't seem to have changed arrows on asphalt! They're driving against the direction of those arrows in the video!
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Old September 8th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7t View Post
I always found driving on the left side retarded just like writing from right to left. It's just unnatural.
Thats because you probably rarely drive on the left side of the road. I would say the same thing about the right.

I would like to know how many crashes have occured today after the new laws came into force!
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Last edited by transport21; September 8th, 2009 at 07:40 PM.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 09:02 PM   #11
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Old September 8th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Samoans will definitely end up getting cheaper cars now, which is good news for them.
but bad news for Mother Nature!!
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Old September 8th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #13
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Imagine a bigger country doing this!
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Old September 8th, 2009, 10:04 PM   #14
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Completely impossible in today's connected world. Just some isolated islands and countries - North Korea comes to my mind - could afford that. Everywhere else is just not thinkable.
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Old September 8th, 2009, 10:35 PM   #15
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I'd much rather have OZ move to the "right" side of the road than this tragedy
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Old September 9th, 2009, 02:50 AM   #16
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But isn't cheaper for Samoans to get cheap American used cars from American Samoa? A can see American cars on videos.

O/T: looks like they also have McDonalds.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 07:40 AM   #17
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I wonder what that means for the drive thru restaurants.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 09:35 AM   #18
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I wonder what that means for people who have lately bought a new car with the steering wheel on the left
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Old September 9th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #19
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Quote:
The government will continue to allow vehicles with left-side steering wheels after the changeover.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 10:56 AM   #20
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Okinawa (Japan) switched to left hand driving in 1978. From 1945 to 1972 Okinawans drove on the right as it was then occupied (and one may say it still is...) by America. Prior to Samoa is this the last country/state to have switched sides?

As for the debate about left vs right hand traffic it all depends on perspective. Of course if you were born in a country that drives on a particular side you are going to find the opposite not to your liking. In the case of Samoa I think it makes sense.
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