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September 9, 2009

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Samoans do left turn to applause and no accidents

SAMOANS passed a major driving test on Monday when the tiny South Pacific country became the first in decades to switch its traffic from one side of the road to the other - with no accidents reported.

Officials urged the public to stay vigilant and not become complacent.

After months of preparations, the early-morning switch from right to left went without incident and in an atmosphere of national celebration.

As the 6am deadline approached, Police Minister Toleafoa Faafisi went on national radio to tell drivers everywhere to stop their vehicles.

Minutes later, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi broadcast the formal instructions for drivers to switch sides.

When drivers resumed their journeys, horns honked, sirens wailed and church bells rang.

While there was some hesitation, traffic soon flowed again with guidance from police as hundreds of onlookers who lined streets in the capital of Apia clapped and cheered.


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