Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia

Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars! 

This week’s question: What important automotive milestone occurred on September 3rd, 1967?

If you think you know the answer,  make the jump and see if you’re correct.

They say that America and Great Britain are two nations separated by a common language. That’s partially true – as John Hodgman proves in his 2012 TV special by asking a British boy to pronounce “Fast Taco,” – but what really defines the differences between Jolly Old and the Colonies is the fact that we drive on opposite sides of the road.

320px-Kungsgatan_1967There’s much lore as to why the Brits drive on the left, one stemming from when roads were horse paths rife with bandits and seeing as most people were right-handed, passing on that side afforded wary travelers easier access to a weapon should someone passing the other way attempt any shenanigans. I don’t know how much veracity there is in that, but it’s as good as any an explanation.

Of course, that wasn’t good enough for the Swedes, and in fact while they did originally share the Brit’s thoughts on road protocol, Sweden being bordered by other nations rather than an island kingdom meant that keeping to the left proved problematic when all of their neighbors were driving on the right and the country was seeing accidents rise as drivers made the switch at the border.

That’s why, on September 3rd, 1967, in one of history’s most amazing single day nation-wide events, Sweden switched sides.

From Wikipedia:

Dagen H (H day), today mostly called “Högertrafikomläggningen” (“The right-hand traffic diversion”), was the day, 3 September 1967, on which traffic inSwedenswitched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right. The “H” stands for “Högertrafik”, the Swedish word for “right-hand traffic.”

Of course, this didn’t occur without years of planing and public awareness campaigns, and efforts were taken to ensure traffic at the time of the switch – 1:00 to 6:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon – was minimal by barring all non-essential cars and trucks from the roads. Despite that, as you could imagine there were plenty who wanted to be part of the switch. Those who did were instructed to stop at 4:50 pm wherever they were and carefully move to the other side of the roadway where they then had to stop and wait until 5:00 pm before moving into Sweden’s future. With such attention being paid to both the effort and the drivers, the accident rate on that date was significantly lower than average.

Image source: Wikipedia

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