Nazism had ironed out some of the differences in continental practice,
In 1955, the Swedish government held a plebiscite on the issue. 'Leftists' and 'rightists' waged a fierce propaganda war, at the end of which 82 per cent voted to keep left. But the two main parties ignored this thumping majority and in 1963 cut a deal to force the change through. In a project masterminded by Lars Skiöld, director of the Right-Hand Traffic Commission,
What happened instead resembled a Situationist artwork, a poetic transformation of daily life. The changeover was preceded by a ban on all but essential traffic, while new traffic signs were uncovered and old ones covered up. Despite the early hour and the ban on traffic, traffic jams developed as tourists and TV cameramen swarmed on to the road to witness the change. At 4.50am all the traffic on
Why, if Sweden had managed the seemingly impossible, could Britain not do the same? A big problem was that Britain had a much bigger bus population than Sweden, and ministry of transport studies showed that the conversion of buses to have entrances on the right-hand side would have been the costliest aspect of the operation. The issue rumbled on and, after Britain joined the Common Market in 1973, some Europhobes were worried that the Economic Commission for Europe would press for uniformity. But by the end of that decade, the costs - in new road signs, road layouts, right-hand drive cars and buses - were too high to contemplate a change. Driving on the left side of the road has become so ingrained that the suicidally absent-minded motorist who drives the wrong way down a British motorway today – a fairly common occurrence in the 1960s – usually makes the evening news.