Do you know that the cars in Sweden used to go on the left side of the road? Just like they do nowadays in the U.K., yes! Everything changed in 1967 – 50 years ago. Let’s find out more about that!
Sweden used the left-hand traffic since the 18th century and the initiative of changing this was formalized in a national-wide referendum which took place in October 1955. Even if a bit more than 50% of the people with the right to vote showed up, the suggestion to switch the driving style to right-hand traffic failed with almost 83% of the votes going against it.
Nevertheless, this subject was not over. By mid-60s Sweden was the only mainland European country to still have its left-hand traffic. More than that, the neighboring countries already had the right-hand traffic and more than 90% of the cars in Sweden were indeed designed for driving on the right side on the road.
So, mostly do to the foreign pressure, the Swedes did have to make the change. The day was the 3rd of September 1967, the H day (“Dagen H” – H coming from Högertrafik: right traffic in Swedish). It was the moment when Sweden changed from left-hand traffic to right-hand traffic.
It was a rather difficult day. All traffic private traffic was stopped between 1 and 6 AM in order to allow the workers to change the signs and everything that was needed for the shift which was officially enforced starting with 5 AM. The complete transition was done in about one month.
Nowadays, mostly the former British colonies are still using the left-hand traffic, for example: India, Australia, or South Africa. In Sweden there are almost no traces of the past left-hand traffic, except some public railway lines, which continue to go on the left side of the tracks, as Roslagsbanan does in Stockholm for example.
On the topic of traffic in Sweden, it’s worth mentioning that on Sunday, the 17 of September, “I stan utan min bil” will be taking place in Stockholm. In town without my car will be a day when the traffic will be restricted in the central parts of the Swedish capital. This will be the third year in the row when the event takes place and it represents an initiative in accordance with the European Mobility Week ongoing between the 16th and 22nd of September. So come and visit Stockholm then for a city more quiet and peaceful, for a better environment.
For more stories from Sweden, keep an eye on our blog and our social media pages. See you soon!
Text: Ionut @ stoRy touRs