Monday, September 07, 2009

Real life implementation of an old interview question - driving on the other side of the road

I can clearly remember one of the interview questions I was posed when applying for a graduate position 15 years ago. It was one of those classical open-ended questions to test creative and logical thinking.

A country wants to switch from driving on one side of the road to the other. How would you go about making it happen?

Now the funny answer offered by a colleague was to suggest a phased approach of moving lorries and buses one week, and then move cars and motor across the next week!

Sky News - picture of left handed Samoan bus

But it’s no joke for Samoans this morning who are making the switch from right to left.

In a controversial move that aims to reduce the cost of importing cars from neighbouring Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Samoa is reducing the speed limit, declaring a public holiday and banning the sale of alcohol to aide the transition.

A BBC news online article reports on the challenges facing local bus companies:

"Local bus owners are also furious about having to either buy new vehicles or convert their old ones - by cutting new doors on the left side behind the driver so passengers don't have to step off into the middle of the road. One bus company owner has threatened to set his vehicles alight in protest."

The South Pacific islands had an enormous number of signs and road markings to change in preparation, never mind slip roads and one way streets,

"In some places, new signs directing drivers to keep left have been removed, and directional arrows on the road have been painted over to point the wrong way."

Interestingly, in a largely church attending society, Samoan churches have been key in raising public awareness, and running the much-needed prayer component of the switchover plan.

(Picture of bus from Sky News.)

Update - article and video post-switch over.

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