Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong
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Road signs on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge towards Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg

Letters | One country, one direction: time for Hong Kong to get it right

  • Is there any nation in the world where you need to switch sides when you travel from one city to another?

The Hong Kong-mainland China cross-border driving scheme allows the smooth movement of vehicles from one side to the other. However, mainland China drives on the right-hand side of the road while Hong Kong is a left-hand drive city. When a mainland driver crosses into Hong Kong, he is likely to sometimes mistakenly end up on the wrong side of the road, and vice versa. 

I got my driver’s licence in Hong Kong, and when I went to school in America, I often ended up on the wrong side of the road. After spending four years in America, I returned to Hong Kong, and again I tended to end up on the wrong side of the road. In 1975, there were not that many cars in Hong Kong, otherwise I would have been in a lot of trouble.

In 1919, some 104 of the world’s territories had left-hand traffic (LHT) and an equal number had right-hand traffic (RHT). Between 1919 and 1986 though, 34 of the LHT territories switched to RHT. Today, 70 per cent of the world drives on the right side of the road. RHT is just plain better. It’s time for Hong Kong (and likewise, Macau) to switch to RHT.

Busy traffic on a polluted day in Beijing in March. Photo: Simon Song

I know old habits are difficult to change, but we can do it gradually. Hong Kong and Macau are territories of China. Is there any nation in the world where you travel from one city to another and you need to switch from RHT to LHT?

More than 2,200 years ago, the Qin dynasty unified the Chinese writing system and also standardised the measurements of length and weight. In the early years of the Republic, Mandarin became the official speaking language of China. It’s OK to transition from confusion to clarity and save lives – it’s time for Hong Kong and Macau to switch to RHT. 

Ken Cheng, Merrick, New York