Monday, 24 August 2009

Drive on the left or the right ?

You drive on the left side of the road in some countries and right in others. Except , of course, if you drive in India where you drive on the left, right, up, down, under, over, fifth dimension, whatever.

Now this is no big deal. Except for some some confusion if you travel between countries which practice the opposite system. Typically in the UK and its former colonies you drive on the left. And in Japan. Everywhere else you drive on the right. Why this is so, is history – if you are really interested in how this came to be, click here. As is the reason with everything that is non standard in the world – voltages, plug pins, mobile frequencies, etc.

There are however a few countries in the world which decide to change ! Now , why they do this, is beyond comprehension. But they do. Nigeria was one famous case decades ago (left to right) – easy to speculate why ; some car companies must have made some people very rich. Since 1970, things have been pretty much stable. But on Sep 7th, this benign and stable way of life will change. The citizens of Samoa, who currently drive on the right , will shift to the left.

No why on earth would the Samoans want to do this. The stated reason is that its two biggest neighbours Australia and New Zealand drive on the left. Therefore if Samoa would drive on the left, it would be easier to get cheap second hand cars from these countries! Double take !!. Once more !!! And because there will be cheaper and more cars, more people can escape tsunamis !!!! (I am not making this up; this is officially stated by the Prime Minister of Samoa).

Now let me state absolutely categorically that this decision was entirely taken for logical reasons, and that the used car industry in Australia did no lobbying, paid no bribes, did absolutely nothing wrong and the entire decision making process was dictated by high logic and forceful arguments and with no other motive.

Such are the perils of decision making by governments.


Srivats said...

//Except , of course, if you drive in India where you drive on the left, right, up, down, under, over, fifth dimension, whatever.

Right o Jeeves!

Thanks for the informative post and the link :)

A journey called Life said...

i actually never spared thought to this.. that piece of history made interesting read (note to self: not to ever repeat things that are way too obvious).. nice informative post..

Kiwibloke said...

Figure this - there are 200,000 Samoans in Samoa, officially 140,000 Samoans in NZ (not counting illegal immigrants in Otara Auckland and Porirua Wellington)and about 30,000 in Aussie. Samoan drivers in NZ/Aus (every one drives) outnumber those in Samoa by a 10 to 1 factor So what is wrong in Samoa moving to the left of the road.
PS: On an other note, 70% the All Blacks is made up of Pacific Islanders (Tongans, Samoans, Fijians) or Maoris. We have a few exceptions like Dan Carter, Richie Macaw who are "European" Kiwis

kiwibloke said...

Just in case any of my Islander friends feel offended by my post especially referring to Otara and Porirua (which some time have a negative connotation), just to clarify that I have heaps of great friends from the Islands -Tonga, Samoa, Fiji. Large hearted people, have enjoyed many a pit roast pig with my Samoan friends. Truly friends for life!!

Ramesh said...

@srivats - Pip pip & Toodleoo !! Thanks for the comment

@AJCL - Thanks. Next change will be in Singapore, because old man Lee will wake up one day on the right side of the bed and decree that everybody else should do so too !!

Ramesh said...

@kiwi - Ah - Of course I should have expected a vigorous response from you. Nothing is wrong in driving to the left or the right, but why change ??

Just to be abundantly clear - HAIL MANU SAMOA.

And "roast pig ". !! ? !! Kashtam Kashtam. Abhishtu !!

thethoughtfultrain said...

That was some info! :-) The link you attached was a good read. :-)

The govt of Samoa took a humongous decision for the greater good of its citizens - which is rather admirable. I do hope the execution of the new rule goes calmly.

Ramesh said...

@thoughtful train - I love your varied interest. You have the rare quality to read and appreciate all sorts of stuff. Very refreshing. Thanks very much.

Ajay said...

That article about the history of driving was a very interesting read. The history part especially - from the Romans to Napoleon.
I think everybody needs to pay the mortgage (quoting from the movie "Thank you for smoking"), that's why such decisions are taken.

thethoughtfultrain said...

oooh!! I am so elated!! :-D

Credit goes to you for making business sound so exciting. :-)

Ramesh said...

@Ajay - Please start a movie blog - you have such wonderful movie knowledge. And such lovely quotes.

mahesh said...

Fully agree with the India driving part...

As far as Samoa goes - thanks for that bit of information. Always thought that since they were part of British rule at one point of time they would be like any other British Colony but it was not so. Found it strange so did some search

Samoa was 2 different countries earlier Western Samoa and German Samoa. America also claimed a part of the islands later on. At some point of time Britain transferred control to Germany in a swap of colonies (Yes the Europeans did some cool stuff in the past). I am sure at this point of time they would have changed the side of the road on which they drove.

Ramesh said...

That's some very good research Mahesh. Thanks for writing this. You should be a blogger yourself.

mahesh said...

Hmmm Good Idea

since I am not gainfully occupied these days it could be a good source of keeping myself occupied..

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