Nazi traffic laws

Despite the subject, this isn’t a flame…

In this article Cecil informs us that the Nazis forced Austria and Czechoslovakia to switch from driving on the left to driving on the right.

Were there other countries that permanently switched which side they drove on during WWII? There’s a claim on this site,5753,-19385,00.html that the Dutch drove on the left prior to the Nazi occupation. I’m wondering about Hungary. It was a former part of the Austro-Hungarian empire; did it once drive on the left?

If Austria switched to the right side driving during the war, why did they bother to change back to left again after it?

BTW I found a glaring mistake in Cecil’s column:

The straight dope is that Swedish cars had the steering wheel on the left side, so if they made any designated for left side driving it was for export purposes.

Well, I’m going to give this thread a bump, simply because I’m having a hard time finding a good online source of historical information about driving rules.

It’s easy enough to find information on which side of the road people drive on currently, but a lot harder to figure out how they were driving in the 1930s. This site has some historical information and says that “Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Channel Islands changed sides from left to right to conform to German practice during World War II.”

Floater, are you saying that Austria changed back to driving on the left for a while after WWII and then switched again to driving on the right, as they do currently? If that was the case, meeting an oncoming car on those Tyrolean mountain roads must have been pretty scary for a while there…

Can anyone confirm that the Dutch drove on the left prior to the Nazi occupation in WWII?

Are there any online collections of photographs of European street scenes in the 1930s? That would seem to be the easiest way to check which side of the road people were driving on. If not, I may have to break down and see if I can get a copy of the book by Kincaid that’s referenced on the above web site.

Floater, I am not sure I understand. Are you saying Swedes have always driven on the right hand side of the road? Before and after 1967?

No, but we have always used cars with the steering wheel on the left side, so the change went very smoothly as no one had to buy a new car.

As for Austria they changed from left to right sometime in the early sixties so if Cecil is correct when he says that they changed from left to right during the nazi period, they must have changed back again after the war.

Cecil was right in that Austria changed during the war; are you sure they changed in the 60s as well, Floater?

Hitler proclaimed Anschluss on 12 March 1938, and the following day declared that Austria was to change to driving on the right-hand side - overnight. Big laughs for all, what with the signs being the wrong way round. For added fun, the trams in Vienna couldn’t be changed so quickly, and so ran against the flow of traffic for a few weeks.

Interestingly, before the war, not all of the country had driven on the left. Western Austria drove on the right, which was a hangover from the days when Napoleon had handed it over to Bavaria.

Well, that’s what I’ve always heard, but I find no cite for it.

I am not sure about austria changing back to the left and back again in the sixties. I am sure we would have heard about it. After all there are many sites that mention the swedish switch over (which could be what floater was thinking about)

here are a few links to historical left/right driving

Definitely not. It’s a childhood memory of having heard or read somewhere that Sweden was the only continental* European country that still drove on the left side of the streets after Austria changed and that must have been around 1960.

*Although we never refer to Sweden as continental. The continent starts in Denmark (and includes Britain). :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the link to the New Scientist article, scm1001. Very informative.

I’m still wondering about the chronology of events in the Netherlands. Although it’s not stated explicitly, this statement seems to imply that the Dutch were driving on the right well before the Nazis invaded:

(It also seems to contradict Cecil’s assertion that Indonesia drives on the left due to British influence.)