Oddly Enough

Ireland debates switch to right-hand driving

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland should consider giving up driving on the left to reduce accidents by foreigners accustomed to right side motoring, a senior politician said Friday.

Donie Cassidy, the leader of Ireland’s upper chamber Senate, cited Sweden -- which moved to the right in 1967 -- as an example of a country that switched decades after most of Europe did.

Ireland’s economic growth over the past decade has attracted tens of thousands of workers especially from central and eastern European countries. It is also a popular tourist destination for visitors from the United States.

“We have all of these people coming in from Europe and from America and (because of) the roads that they are used to driving on in their own countries it is a huge difficulty when they start driving here,” Cassidy told public broadcaster RTE.

“I know when I go to America it takes me five or six days to adjust.”

Motoring body the AA said the idea was “completely impractical.”

As another remedy, Cassidy suggested in the Senate on Thursday that people from countries driving on the right should observe a 50 mile per hour speed limit, compared with speeds up to 120 km permitted for Irish drivers.

Besides Ireland, many former British colonies such as India and Australia keep to the left as does Japan.

Reporting by Andras Gergely; editing by Elizabeth Piper