Beginning on September 7, 2009, driving will be on the left in Samoa. Samoans currently drive on the right, as is the case in neighbouring American Samoa, North America, and much of the world. But starting next month, Samoans will join New Zealanders, Australians, Japanese, and the British in driving on the left. Bus owners are being required to change the doors on their vehicles so passengers can board from the left and they are being compensated for this expense by having their 2010 licensing fees waved.
Samoa imports most of its vehicles from Japan and there are already 2,000 righthand-drive cars in the country. Changing driving to the left will not only be convenient for tourists from New Zealand, Australia, and Japan – who comprise a large majority of Samoa’s visitors – but it will allow Samoans to continue saving money by importing cheap Japanese used cars.
The change will take effect at 6 am on Monday, September 7, 2009. At 5:50 am that day any motorists on the road will be required to stop driving and remain stationary for 10 minutes. At 6 am they must move their vehicles over to the lefthand side of the road and continue waiting another 10 minutes. Then at 6:10 am they can start driving on the left. Crews will be out changing highway signs and traffic lights the night before. Large directional arrows will be painted on the roads. If you’re in Samoa on September 7, get up early to see the show!
Actually this is a universally opposed change – with 10s of thousands of Samoans protesting the costly change (about 60millon USD) – there was no referendum, as this was a top down decision and no analysis to date has shown a cost savings to the people of Samoa. There are currently 17,000 left hand drive cars while there are only 2000 right hand drive. It will likely be a bloody September. Stay away from the roads of Samoa