There’s upheaval in Samoa as a cultural shift changes the country’s direction—on the road. On September 7, Samoa is set to become the first country in 40 years to switch the side of the road used for driving, writes Tom Vanderbilt in Salon. The Pacific island nation will move to the left, like neighbor American Samoa, so consumers can save money by buying cheaper imports from left-driving Australia or New Zealand.
In 1967, Sweden became the last nation to switch (to the right), but for a very different reason: to align with traffic elsewhere in continental Europe. The opposition was fierce, as it is now in Samoa. Protests have been the biggest ever held there, and a new political party called People Against Switching Sides has emerged. The move raises the question of whether the world needs an international standard, writes Vanderbilt, though it's hard to say which side is actually safer for drivers.