50 years right hand traffic in Sweden

Until 1967, Sweden was the only Scandinavian country to have left-hand traffic on the streets. The bordering neighbours such as Norway and Finland had introduced the right hand traffic for a long time. Around five million drivers crossed these borders every year. The frequency of accidents was very high in the 1960s. This was mainly due to the fact that some 90 per cent of the vehicles were left-handed in Sweden, which often led to serious accidents on the narrow two-lane roads in Sweden, as the drivers were missing the overview.

Therefore, on 3 September 1967, the Swedish Government decided to convert all traffic to righthand traffic. One of the biggest logistical actions in Swedish history.
The change, however, did not find a lot of friends in the country. The referendum on right hand driving was made in 1955. 85 per cent of Swedish citizens opposed this change. In 1963, however, the Swedish parliament, led by Primier Minister Tageendeland, decided to change the traffic in 1967. Also because the traffic has increased from 500,000 cars to over 1.5 million cars within a few years.

It took four years to prepare for the change. A campaign was launched, which bore the name “Dagen H” and received its own logo. This logo has been shown on all kinds of products such as milk bags, underwear or food packaging to prepare the Swedish population for a change. There was even an extra song written for a Swedish song competition on television, which had even won the competition. The title of the song was presented by the group The Telestars: “Hall dig till höger, Svensson” (Stay right, Svensson).

Sunday, September 3, 1967, was the day of action. In smaller towns an exit barrier was issued from 1:00 am to 6:00 am, in larger cities like Stockholm or Malmö even from Saturday 10:00 am to Sunday 3:00 pm, because the logistical effort involved not only the change of the roadside, but markings and signs had to be moved, crossings reconstructed, signs were erected and bus stops were built on the other side of the road. Trams were abolished and buses were used. One-way streets became part of a problem and had to be re-planned. At 4:50 am, all the vehicles had to stop and carefully change sides. The picture shown was shot at this moment.