European countries that switched from left to right driving directions

People walk around downtown Sag Harbor on the day Pop singer Justin Timberlake was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated in a neighbourhood in the Hamptons according to authorities, in Sag Harbor, New York, U.S., June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Driving worldwide has seen an evolution over the years.

It’s rather easy to imagine driving in the left or right directions but mixed-direction driving may sound rather wild right? While the latter barely exists today, many countries around the world drive either on the left or the right depending on traffic rules, and usually, cars in the country are made to suit this plan or imported with this in mind.

About 30% of the world’s countries mandate left-side driving and another 70% stay to the right.

This makes it easy for smoother and safer transportation. Here is a compilation of some European countries that switched from left to right driving directions and how it impacted their roads and people.


A hybrid driving system still existed in Spain in 1918 despite the country switching to Right-Hand Traffic (RHT). Drivers in Madrid were still driving on the left despite the law but by 1924, a national law was introduced, making it mandatory for every driver to switch to RHT.


Italy started driving on the right in the 1890s, and it became mandatory with the 1912 highway code. Cities with trams could keep driving on the left but by 1927, all cars in Italy began driving on the right.


The change happened on the same day across Italy and its colonies. But areas next to countries that drove on the left like Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) were not included.


Between 1921 and 1935, the Austrian regions of Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Carinthia, and part of Salzburg switched to driving on the right. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Hitler mandated an overnight change for the rest of the country. Austria changed to right-hand driving completely by 1938.

Hungary and Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia and Hungary were among the last European countries to drive on the left. They switched to the right after Germany invaded them, with Czechoslovakia changing in 1939 and Hungary in late 1944.


Sweden was pressured to switch to driving on the right after World War 2. During this time, the majority of its mainland Europe neighbours including Norway and Finland, already drove on the right, making it confusing for drivers on the small, unguarded border roads. After a referendum in 1955, 82.9% of citizens said no to changing. Despite this, in 1963, the Swedish parliament decided to switch. The change happened on 3 September 1967. The day is known as "Dagen H" or "H day," with "H" standing for "Högertrafik," which means "right-hand traffic" in the English language.


Iceland changed its driving direction the following year in 1968, after Sweden’s successful changeover.

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