Samoans Angry Over Planned Switch To Drive On The Left

August 23, 2009
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On the 7th of September the South Pacific nation Samoa plans to switch from driving on the right side of the road to the left as most of its visitors and migrants come from right-hand-drive markets like New Zealand and Australia. Located on the Samoan Islands archipelago, along with American Samoa, the Samoans have been using left-hand-drive vehicles ever since they were under German rule nearly a century ago.

The reasoning behind the switch is that a lot of Samoans get their cars from relatives living in nearby New Zealand and Australia where people drive on the left. The Prime Minister also stated that most Samoans migrate to New Zealand or Australia, and thus it will be easier for them to get jobs if they can already drive on the correct side of the road.

The island's inhabitants aren't all as gung-ho as the Prime Minister though--some of them have set up an organization going by the name of People Against Switching Sides, or PASS. The group has filed a lawsuit opposing the change on grounds of unconstitutionality and life-endangerment. The switch is also set to have serious economic repercussions for the tiny island nation--most of the inhabitants' primary non-residential asset (their vehicle) will lose a great deal of its value.

Automakers are currently waiting for the action to take place before any move is undertaken to order right-hand-drive vehicles to Samoa. If all goes to plan, the tiny island nation in the South Pacific will become what's believed to be the first nation since the 1970s to order its drivers to switch from one side of the road to the other.

[Wall Street Journal]

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