This month marks 50 years since Icelanders switched from driving on the left to driving on the right. On May 26, 1968, traffic rules were officially changed, requiring drivers to switch over to the right lane.
The day was known as H-Day, with H standing for hægri, or ‘right’ in Icelandic. At the time, authorities exerted great effort in preparing drivers for the change. A logo was made to promote the event, and campaigners used the opportunity to educate drivers about road safety. A press release from the Icelandic Transport Authority states the event laid the foundation “for Icelanders’ awareness of their responsibility in road safety issues and the importance of prevention and education.”
The Icelandic Transport Authority and the Municipal Government Committee will mark the anniversary of H-Day this May 31 from 10:00-10:30am in front of The Ministry of Fisheries building, where Icelanders first drove on the right in 1968 – officially speaking. Valgarð Briem, chairman of the committee behind the change, will mark the anniversary with a brief reenactment of the original ceremony – in the same car he used to mark the event 50 years ago.
Former Police Commissioner Gísli Ólafsson hops into Stefán Stefánsson’s car shortly after traffic had switched over to the right lane on H-Day, May 26, 1968. Photo: Samgöngustofa.