It sounds like an April Fool’s joke. For the first time in nearly 40 years, a nation that has historically driven on the right hand side of the road has implemented a nation-wide campaign to switch drivers onto the left hand side. Sound simple? Not so much.The nation in question is the island of Samoa, a tiny chunk of rock sticking out the water near two other chunks of rock, namely Australia and New Zealand. Yes, the tiny island known for it’s gorilla sized woman and tough as nails rugby players.. sorry gorilla sized rugby players and tough as nails women, at midnight, ground to a halt, and simply switch sides. Of true interest to Gorilla is the type of planning that must have taken place to roll-out an awareness campaign of this nature. This is not asking a country to swap toothpaste brands, but rather setting in place a system that avoids 2ton blocks of metal flying towards each-other at 120km/h
Some of the measures they put in place:
- National TV, Radio and Print proclaimed for months the upcoming swap.
- Churches held vigils to pray for a safe transition
- A 2 day national holiday has been implemented to ease congestion
- Alcohol has been banned for 2 days, because hey, what could cock up this process more than a 155kh Samoan, tanked on palm beer, doing a beer run 10min after the change-over
Video of the lead-up and swap can be seen here: Samoan’s switch to driving on the other side of the path
Whilst there has been some opposition (3 of the 8 Samoan bus drivers have laid down keys in protest, causing at least 17 Samoan’s to have to walk 800m to their work on the other side of the island) the switch does make sense. Long isolated economically from it’s wealthier big brothers, Australia and New Zealand, the move has been done to open up the import/export opportunities that come with sharing a similiar vehicle market.