What Happens When a Country Changes the Side Traffic Drives On?

Sweden's traffic moved on the left side of the road long before there were even cars. All that changed in 1967 when Swedes switched from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right side. The change was extremely unpopular, but it was necessary. In Finland and in Norway — the countries with which Sweden shares its borders — motorists were already driving on the right-hand side of the road. Moreover, roughly 90% of Swedes drove cars that had the wheel on the left-hand side. On September 3, 1967, nearly all traffic was blocked on all roads from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.. The only motorists who were allowed to keep driving were those who were on the roads for work. They were ordered to stop at 4:50 a.m. and carefully change sides. The official switch took place at 5 a.m., and at 6 a.m. traffic resumed. It was a massive undertaking to change the traffic direction. All road signs needed to be replaced and turned, approximately 8,000 buses had to be purchased or rebuilt, and lines on all roads had to be repainted. Previously, Sweden had yellow lines that were visible through snow, but now they would be white. Emergency vehicles that used red lights had to be fitted with blue ones, and even warning signs had to be changed to fit the driving pattern. For example, signs that warned of moose were mirrored so that the running moose was facing the left. The transition was made and traffic moved along like normal, with very few incidents as a result. Today, only the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta have left-hand driving in Europe.