Saturday, December 25, 2010

Swedish Drivers

This is a touchy subject for Swedes.  And maybe I should limit it to Swedes in Skane, southern Sweden where we live since that is my experience.  A swedish man I was talking to once told me about Swedish men that "You can get away with saying something somewhat critical about his wife but beware of saying anything critical about his driving or you will have an enemy for life."

Sweden is about the size of California with a population of just over 9 million.  California has just over 37 million.  Skane has a population of 1.2 million.  Which is roughly the same size as the city proper of Los Angeles with a population of 4 million.  The population density of Los Angeles is 7,700 per sq. mile.  The population density of Skane is 290 per sq. mile.  The point is that there is "no traffic" here.  Of course when the weather is bad and it is rush hour traffic here can cause some delays.  But even those are minor in comparison to traffic in Los Angeles.  Now with all this information on with my observations.

Some basic assumptions on my part based on my experience.  Most drivers in California are good courteous drivers (85% good / 15% questionable).  Most Skane Swedish drivers are good courteous drivers (60% good / 40% very questionable).  Not scientific.

On most country roads the speed limit here is 70 km/h.  We live on a country road.

What I have observed:

  • There are two cars on the road going in the same direction with no other cars to be seen as far as the eye can see.  One car is tale gating the other.  Why?
  • The same situation as above, only it is snowing and the roads are slippery, the tail gating car now attempts to pass the other car in snow drifts.  Why?
  • There is one car on the road driving in one direction.  There is a bicycle rider in the distance in front of him.  There is a person walking his dog on the opposite side of the road in the distance.  There is an oncoming car in the opposite lane.  Both cars do not attempt to slow down.  Remember, there is no other traffic.  The cars do not give an inch.  Both cars squeeze together passing the person walking his dog and the bicycler on the road.  All four are in parallel to each other at the same point. Why?
  • One car is driving at what appears to be about 90 km/h on a 70 km/h road.  Another car passes him at what seems to be 110 km/h.  No other cars on the road.  All weather conditions apply.  Why?
  • 70% of drivers have an appendage stuck in their ear called a cell phone while smoking and trying to drive a car and shifting gears (most cars are not automatic).  Some of them are even texting.  When Neta and I are walking Ralle down a short stretch of the road we have to flag them away from us because they are too busy talking, speeding, and smoking.  Why?
  • Many people have horses here and you often see them riding on a country road to get to a trail.  Drivers slow down from 70 to 50 and slightly move over.  Others don't even slow down.  Why?
  •  On major highways (freeways) its customary to only use the left lane for passing or when you are speeding way over the speed limit.  If you happen to be passing a truck you will often find a car kissing your rear bumper indicating that he/she wants to pass.  Remember, there can often be a handful of cars on the road.  Why?
  • If you ever try to enter the flow of traffic in major cities, shopping centers, or change lanes you will not often ever come across a driver who will let you go first.  Fortunately this is never a real problem because there is so little traffic.  But why is there often no courtesy?
  • If you are a walking in a parking lot drivers will very often ignore you.  They will most always go first.  Why?
  • 44% of Swedes from Skane consider themselves far superior safe drivers as stated in the Helsingborg news paper yesterday.  Why?
My conclusion is that a high percentage of Swedish drivers are very aggressive, inconsiderate, and irresponsible.  Swedish drivers don't know how good they have it.  No traffic to contend with and no reason to drive as they do.  There are very few police on the roads.  You can very often go a full week without seeing one.  Perhaps they drive like this because they can.  The government tries to take care of its people.  And, maybe in doing so people often don't take responsibility for their own actions.  Maybe,  like a teenager with new found freedom from home, they go crazy behind the wheel.  I don't know.

Like I said there is very little traffic here so this is not an intolerable situation.  It is just curious and sometimes annoying.


  1. We all know you are a perfect driver, you have told us yourself.
    But about 35% of the 40% you mention are people coming from other countries,


  2. Once I was on a tour of Rome, Italy. I sat in the front seat of the bus to get a better view. I decided on that trip that the only reason there were stripes painted on the roads was to provide employment for road-striping painters. On a four-lane road were seven lanes of traffic, occasionally eight.