Swedish H Day

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50 years ago, 3 September 1967 Sweden switched from left-hand to right-hand traffic. At that time 90 percent of Swedes drove left-hand drive vehicles which led to many head-on collisions when passing on narrow two-lane highways. The H stands for Högertrafik (right traffic).

The H Day was an historic and potentially catastrophic moment, which luckily unfolded smoothly as anyone possibly could have imagined. The decision to move to the other side of the road was however not taken lightly. In fact, the idea had repeatedly been voted down during the preceding decades.

Swedish H Day
Left-hand drive bus in Stockholm

Over one thousand new buses were purchased with doors on the right-hand side. Some 8,000 older buses were retrofitted to provide doors on both sides, and the city of Malmö exported their right-hand drive buses to Pakistan and Kenya.

Related: Nostalgic Driving in Sweden

Swedish H Day
Swedish G Day sign

There had of course been meticulous planning ahead of the momentous occasion, including government-led education campaigns as well as a right-hand-traffic-themed song-writing competition by public broadcasters. As you know, Swedes know how to write popular music.

Here is the winner:

A popular referendum in 1955 showed however that 83 percent of the Swedish population was opposed to the change, but on 10 May, 1963 the Swedish Parliament approved the introduction of right hand traffic in 1967.

Swedish H Day
Trams pn Line 5 in Stockholm, 1962. Photo: Håkan Trapp

On September 3rd 1967 all non-essential traffic was banned from the roads between 1am and 6am; in Stockholm and Malmö the ban was in place from 10pm on September 2nd to 3pm the next day.

Related: Sweden’s “Middle Way”

With all of Sweden’s neighboring countries driving on the right, it made sense for Sweden to do the same.

Feature image (on top): 3 September 1967: Kungsgatan in Stockholm (Wikipedia)

Swedish H Day, written by Tor Kjolberg