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Driving Around the World

Car Culture

Driving Around the World: Sweden

February 10, 2015
This Scandanavian country is known for many iconic things: the Northern Lights, frozen tundra, Swedish meatballs, Ikea, great design and so much more! But I really don’t know a whole lot about Sweden, besides the cliches. So I decided to read up on the driving culture in Sweden and write up a post all about it!
  • The drivers switched from the left to right side of the road in 1967. This is a pretty crazy one, but the country decided to change the side of the road all of the drivers use in 1967. “According to the Natural Travels website, at 4:50 am on September 3rd, traffic all across the country was directed over to the right side of the road and stopped still for 10 minutes before setting off again at 5 am, this time driving on the right, where it has remained ever since. It is hard to imagine how such a logistical operation could have been accomplished!” See, pretty crazy, right?
  • The roads are very clear and drivers are sparse. Unlike the congested freeways of America, most areas of Sweden never get any traffic! Can you imagine? The major city of Stockholm has congestion at times, but otherwise, cars could drive for hours and never see another soul in site!
  • You have to have your headlights on at all times. Yep, lights are required even in the middle of the day! Perhaps that’s because of the previous statement about the few drivers on the road…you’ll really want to warn someone when you’re coming!
  • You can’t get a drivers license until you’re 18. Eager teens in the United States probably wouldn’t be very happy about this one! But on the positive side, drivers can rent a car at the younger age of 20, instead of age 25 like in America.
  • Swedes don’t mess around when it comes to drinking and driving.  The legal blood alcohol limit in Sweden is currently 0.02, compared to 0.08 in places like the UK. Police have the right to demand a blood sample and failing a test will result in imprisonment!
  • Beware of the wildlife! Though it certainly must be beautiful to encounter, the wildlife in Sweden can also pose a serious hazard to drivers.  There are around 4,500 accidents involving vehicles and moose alone each year in Sweden! And that doesn’t include all the deer, bears, squirrels and rabbits that abound in Sweden. (Or the magical reindeer!) Hence, drivers take major caution whenever they come across a wildlife sign on the road.
  • Speed limit signs are yellow. Though the United States has a standard system for road signs, all bets are off in other countries. For example, in Sweden, the speed limit signs are yellow with red trim around it, whereas speed limit signs in America are typically white with black writing.
  • You must carry a warning triangle in your car. Much like flares or other safety precaution, warning triangles are used by Swedish drivers to let other cars know they are pulled off to the side of the road. They are a requirement for all drivers and must be placed behind their car if they get a speeding ticket!