Days 337 to 341 — Swedish driving licenses

Wow, five days and not a peep. My original intention was to do a post every day for a year and with five day breaks like this, forget it.

Speaking of a year, my U.S. drivers license is valid in Sweden for a year so that means I need to get a Swedish license. There are many things different between Sweden and the U.S., but a drivers license is about as big  difference as you can imagine. I got my CA license on my 16th birthday. I went down to the DMV in one of the family cars (a very cool 1956 De Soto that was kind of a strange dark pink and dark grey with a push button transmission and a version of hemi-head pistons and it really hauled), took a written test of about 25 questions and a short  driving test and that was it. I have had a license ever since.

Things are different here. A person can get a learner’s permit when they turn 16 but that is about the only thing similar.  Luckily, one can study for the theory part of the process in English, so today I went an purchased the manual that I need to study to take the theory test. That ran a cool 450 kronor, or $65. You know where this is going. The manual is 300 pages long and it accompanied by three other booklets making the number pages to study at right around 400.

Then there is the book of Swedish road signs:

The 100 on the cover does not refer to how many roads signs there are. (I wish.) I stopped counting at 80 and was only 1/4 of the way through the booklet. The 100 refers to the speed limit, which unfortunately is in kilometers, which equates to 60 mph. You have to go to Germany where you can really let is loose on the Autobahn.

Then there are 24 pages on stopping and parking. 24 pages?!

And 24 more on pedestrian and bicycle crossings. I don’t think they leave anything to the imagination here.

I have a friend who took the written test, which consists of 70 questions, some of which are quite detailed and tricky and he flunked twice. Finally, he purchased a link to an online site where you can study old tests (for 300 kronor about 45 USD) and passed on his third try.

In other words, just the theory test is no walk in the part.

Then there is the practical tests. First, you take a class on driving on slippery surfaces, which apparently is kind of fun. You have to get your car up to about 40 mph and then spin it out of control and then straighten it out. They have training grounds that they cover in oil or something to simulate icy road surfaces.

After the risk course you take your theory test and then the practical driving test. Everything costs, too. Oh, and of course and eye exam, which also costs. I can’t face the cost for all this yet but I have heard it runs into the thousands of kronor.

For now I will content myself with cramming this manual into my head.

It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, though. I went into a bank in town to see the decorations done by a well known sculptor named Walter Bengston who was a friend of Mariette’s day. I haven’t seen the interior of a bank in the U.S. that looks like this.

Elevator doors.

The lady at the reception desk said it was an interesting building to work in.

These last three shots are just to remind myself that we did have a couple of decent days weatherwise recently, Mostly it has been overcast with some rain and unseasonably cool, though not too bad. Temperatures in the 50s are rather comfortable I have realized after minus 10 C. for a few months.

The biggest day of Swedish calendar comes next Friday and the weatherman better cooperate. If he doesn’t, it won’t make much of a difference to Swedes, though, only to ex-pat Americans.

Meanwhile I will be learning road signs and training myself out of making right hand turns on stop lights, which I did for  8 summers here before finding out last year that it is illegal. Luckily there are no police in Sweden.




8 thoughts on “Days 337 to 341 — Swedish driving licenses

    • Mike, You just gave me a great idea: I can take up a collection from blog readers to help me pay for my license! It costs a ton to get one. I can have contests and prizes and . . . well, maybe not. Anyway, I will keep you posted as to how it goes. There is a ton of reading. Real told me about what he went through to get his and it wasn’t pretty. Stay tuned.

      • Aha! You see Socialism isn’t all that great, the government is in their own way making you pay them back for the stuff they’ve been giving you. I wonder how expensive it is to get other special “privileges” there.

      • Well, one thing they do is train better drivers. The number of fatalities was about 400 and something, which would equate to 14,000 in the U.S., much lower than the 33,000 that did occur. Yeah, I agree, it is damn expensive, but so is gas at 9 bucks a gallon. Open heart surgery, on the other hand, will run you 20 bucks total. Socialism to me essentially means “people.” Capitalism essentially means “money.” Pick your poison. Sweden is less socialistic in the North Korean sense than you might imagine. Almost all industry is privately owned.

  1. Good luck and good run down of the license difference! I haven’t got my license in either country, so I’m not looking forward to it. Its insane how different it is, why is it so easy to get in the U.S? Although I don’t think it should cost as much as it does in Sweden. Also you have to get a license in manual stick and not just automatic, which kinda scares me, I know about 3 people in NY that drive stick! And don’t make me think about roundabouts! 🙂

    • Thanks! I have made my way through the manual and it is mostly common sense, actually. If you want the ground zero for roundabouts, try Paris. I heard there is no restriction on entering them like you have in Sweden, so it is absolutely crazy. Also, Vespa riders darting in and out like maniacs. I drove for one afternoon in Paris and was a nervous wreck.

    • Actually roundabouts are a brilliant invention, they are so way better than traffic lights and give a far superior traffic flow. They’re easy to deal with once you get used to them. I drove a lot in France in 2010 and loved the roundabouts.

      • Yeah, me too. Paris was a nightmare driving for me. Wow, the Vespas darting in and out! It was like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s