Editor’s Note: Please remember what
1 April is before reading this article.
A traffic accident in the United
States has set in motion a chain of events that might lead to the Cayman
Islands switching to a right-hand traffic pattern
“We’re looking into it,” said a government
spokesperson Wednesday. “It’s complicated, but the US Federal Highway Administration
has promised some technical support.”
The circumstances surrounding the proposal
literally arose by accident.
Missy Fortune of Arlington,
Virginia had just returned from a two-week Grand Cayman vacation in June 2009
when she collided with another car while driving on the wrong side of the
street. Charged with reckless driving –
a criminal offense in Virginia – Ms Fortune and her lawyer were successfully
able to argue that the accident occurred because she had become accustomed to
driving on the left-hand side of the road while in the Cayman Islands.
Her unique defence was picked up by
a newspaper in Arlington, which is a suburb of Washington, DC, and was read by
several members of the US Senate during a sitting of Congress. The senators questioned why people in the
Cayman Islands should drive on the left when most of the tourists that came to
the Islands were from places that drove on the right.
Not wanting to irritate the US
Senate, the Cayman government has agreed to consider switching to a right-hand
The National Roads Authority hired
Goan Rahngway, a traffic consultant from Burma, which switched from a left-hand
traffic pattern to a right-hand pattern in 1970, to conduct a feasibility study
on making the change.
“Plenty of countries have made the
switch,” Rahngway said. “Since 1940,
Panama, Argentina, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Belize, Sweden, Iceland and
my own country have gone from the left to the right.”
Asked if he thought it appropriate
for Cayman to make the change simply because the United States wanted it to,
Rahngway waxed philosophic.
“My country allegedly made the change
on the advice of a wizard,” he said. “I’d say it’s best not to look behind the
Rahngway said a public meeting
would be held at the South Sound Community Centre on April 1st to
explain the proposal in more detail.
“People might think this idea is
foolish, and it’s true that there are a lot of fools around, especially today,”
he said. “But I promise to steer people in the right direction or I’m not Goan
Asked for comment, a senior manager
at the National Roads Authority gruffly responded: “It’s April Fool’s Day, isn’t it?”