「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Look left, look right

By Kip A. Cates


September is the month that marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. In many countries, for families with children, September also means "back to school."

As kids get ready to return to classes, parents around the world worry about their safety and urge them to beware of traffic. "Don't forget to look both ways before you cross the street," they warn.

This advice is especially important when you travel overseas. Why? Because in different countries, cars drive on different sides of the road.

I still remember the time I almost got killed when I forgot this important fact! I was visiting a small town in England and was about to cross the road. For some reason, I had forgotten I was in a foreign country.

I looked left, as I would back in Canada, to check for approaching cars. The road was clear, so I stepped into the street. At that moment, a car came speeding at me from the right. Luckily, the British driver slammed on his brakes just in time. It was only later that I realized how close I'd come to getting killed!

Everybody knows that cars in Japan drive on the left. What about other countries? It's been estimated that cars drive on the right in about 65 percent of the world's nations and on the left in about 35 percent.

Regions where traffic keeps to the right include North America, South America and Europe. Regions where cars keep to the left include Southeast Asia and former British colonies such as India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand. The only major country in Europe where cars drive on the left is the United Kingdom.

Has any country ever changed its direction of driving? Amazingly, yes! One example is Sweden. Until 1967, drivers drove on the left like in Japan. Then, in September of that year, the whole nation changed direction and began driving on the right. How did they do it?

A major campaign was held to prepare Swedish people for what was called "H Day." Signs were put up to warn drivers to drive on the right. Reminders were printed on milk cartons and women's underwear. Swedish TV and radio stations broadcast a catchy pop song called Let's All Drive on the Right, Svensson!

Then, at 6 a.m. on September 3rd, drivers all over the nation carefully changed lanes, from left to right, then continued driving on the other side of the road. The switch went so well that only a handful of accidents were reported. Afterward, the number of traffic accidents actually dropped as people drove more carefully until they got used to the new system.

So, when traveling overseas, don't forget! Look both ways when you cross the street and don't forget which side of the road the cars drive on.



The Japan Times ST: September 25, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版