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Loophole may make speeding legal in Sweden

TT/The Local · 13 Oct 2011, 16:25

Published: 13 Oct 2011 16:25 GMT+02:00

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Courts in southern Sweden have recently thrown out a number of cases involving speed demons in which there is ample evidence to show they were driving too fast.

So far, five speeders have been acquitted, including one who was clocked driving 159 km/h in a zone with a maximum speed of 100 km/h.

“It is a legal issue, an oversight," Fredrik Blommé, a notary with the Ystad District court in southern Sweden told the Skånska Dagbladet daily.

The reason courts have been letting speeders off the hook stems from last year's shuttering of the Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) and the creation of the new Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket).

When the Road Administration was shuttered in April of last year, wording in Sweden's traffic laws was changed to so that the new Transport Administration became responsible for issuing Sweden's traffic regulations.

However, nowhere in the law does it state that the Road Administration's regulations should remain vaild after the Transport Administration assumed responsibility for the rules.

As a result, lawyers are now uncertain as to whether or not its possible to convict someone of speeding.

"Normally, it would have been established that, even though the Road Administration ceased to exist, their regulations would continue to apply,” Blommé told the newspaper.

As a result of the oversight, Blommé has dismissed three speeding cases this week, and more cases have been reported around the region.

“It violates legal principal to sentence someone who has broken the Road Administration's regulations when it says in the law that the Transport Administration has the authority,” he told the TT new agency.

The acquittals cited an appeals court ruling in which a taxi driver was acquitted for violating record-keeping rules issued by the old Road Administration.

But on January 1st, 2009, the the rules changed, with the Road Administration being replaced by the Transport Administration in the texts.

However, because no interim provisions were drawn up to bridge the changes, the driver was freed for failing to abide by the rules issued by the Road Administration.

Göran Hellstrand, a prosecutor who handles traffic issues in Malmö, however argues the law is still very much intact. He said the old agency has issued regulations that are valid until further notice.

"Whoever violates those regulations will get punished," he told TT.

Story continues below…

But what this all means for the thousands of perhaps wrongly convicted speedsters, remains unclear.

However, the General Counsel at the Transport Administration, Charlotta Lindmark, deters people from disregarding the rules, despite the discovery of the loophole.

"All speed limits still apply on our public roads and one is not allowed to violate them," she told TT.

"That concerns regulations that the Transport Administration has issued, but also those issued by the Road Administration, which it was called before."

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:30 October 13, 2011 by Abe L
I sure hope they revise the speed limits and make them more realistic including the penalties. This is by far the biggest cause for speeding in Sweden.

They have very good roads, people drive very high quality cars and except for Stockholm there is general low traffic density. Yet, the most liberal speed limit the country has to offer is generally 110km/h!!

If they simply add +30km/h to each current limit, it would reduce a lot of stress, frustrations and involuntary payments to the country's treasury for a lot of people.
18:56 October 13, 2011 by Svensksmith
Yoohoo, Swedish autobahn!
19:21 October 13, 2011 by eppie

Well I can tell you that the chance of being caught for speeding in Sweden is pretty low. Especially compared to other countries in western Europe. That said the Swedes are one of the best at actually obeying speed limits. (sadly it is more or less the only thing in traffic they do correctly)
19:37 October 13, 2011 by Bender B Rodriquez
The current max speed is 120 km/h, not 110 km/h.
21:59 October 13, 2011 by sparc
@Bender: Probably only on paper since all the way from the bridge to Denmark till Stockholm there are signs enforcing a limit of 110 klm/h.

At least that's what I saw in August that I drove to Copenhagen and back. However, almost everyone was driving steadily at around 130klm/h and the police didn't care. They did stop one car going faster though.
22:16 October 13, 2011 by Imperor
Ridiculous bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo... Everyone knows that the speed-limit is the speed limit and that it's a crime to exceed it. The rest is just plain stupid.

Regarding the speed-limits as such, I can agree that a more pragmatic and realistic approach would be prudent, just as making the very use of drugs illegal when such a large part of the populace clearly don't agree!

On the other hand our limits are calculated from the relative survivability in an accident, which seems pretty good as well! The recent increase is due to the high security of newer cars. Is it really worth it to increase the lethality of a crash by several hundred percent to get there in four hours instead of five?
23:06 October 13, 2011 by Bender B Rodriquez
@ sparc: Between Gothenburg and Malmö the max speed is 120 almost all the way through Halland.
23:18 October 13, 2011 by Imperor
Sweden is the true "Big-Brother" society! We acknowledge that most people are pretty damn stupid or at least ignorant and oblivious and choose to "protect" them instead of leaving them for the wolves. That is the very spirit of social-democracy as opposed to neo-liberalism. While I'm certainly not a Social-Democrat, I can see a lot of good in this sentiment, even if I also believe in a lot more personal liberty, as opposed to capitalist liberty, which has ever and always proved itself detrimental in the long run, when taken to excess.
07:17 October 14, 2011 by Already in use
I hope they stop having such ridiculous speed limits to begin with. I understand you don't want people driving through Stockholm and urban area with 180. But I have been driving Stockholm - Malmo many more time than I'd wanted to and there's no sensible reason for having a 110 speed limit there except possibly to fine people. And I doubt the 160 was the max I've seen.

There's this myth that speed limits prevent accidents, but you only have to look at Germany to see that that's not true. If there's no limit, people will use their brain to figure out what's save to drive and it doesn't increase the accident rate. You still want limits in urban areas etc of course.
07:19 October 14, 2011 by Rick Methven
@Abe L "If they simply add +30km/h to each current limit, it would reduce a lot of stress, frustrations"

What kind of a dumb statement is that?

You want to be able to legally drive at 60kph past a school? instead of 30?

Driving at 140 or 150 on the highway actually increases stress compared to driving within the current limits.

A lot of work has gone into the speed limits that have been rolled out over the past couple of years with the introduction of intermediate 40,60,80,100 KPH limits on some roads and the increase to 120KPH on certain sections of Motorway. The speed limits now reflect the road conditions and the speed that you can safely drive.
09:29 October 14, 2011 by OUIJA
Just drive through Essinge Leden in Stockholm and you will see that almost nobody respects any speed limit. Specially those with brand new black Mercedes, Audis and BMW cars with dark windows and fancy tires. What is needed is less police officer having breakfast during a whole hour at MacDonalds, like the ones I have seen around 10 a.m. in Lindvreten, next to Kungens Kurva while the cars in front of their eyes are passing like jets.
09:39 October 14, 2011 by engagebrain
1% of drivers in Sweden are seriously dangerous, drivers travelling at way over the speed limit viciously tailgate, even when it is impossible to move out of their way.

Research in the UK showed the drivers who had been cut up or tailgated were much more likely to have an accident in the following 15 mnutes - bad driving stresses other drivers and causes accidents.

Lets actually enforce the law and save lives.
10:01 October 14, 2011 by eppie
@already in use.

Not completely true.

1st in Germany there are not many places anymore where there is no speed limit. UI think if you drive from copenhagen to Milan there actually is not a single stretch of highway that has no limit.

Second, Germans also drive better. Swedes cannot even drive and use their mirrors in a correct way.....Sweden should not and I repeat not increase its maximum speed.

That said, if you are able to drive you can drive 130 for most of the part between CPH and STO with minimal chance of ever being fined so there is not really a problem here.
10:31 October 14, 2011 by 160kph
I think it's the consistency in speed limits that bothers me. I noticed the other day as I drove into a village in Skåne that the speed limit went from 80kph, down to 50 going past a junction, then up 70 and then down to 60 in the space of 400 or 500 metres.

Also when you have such varied speed limits it's not always easy to remember what speed you should be driving. A similar type road in Helsingborg that is a 50 will be a 40 in Halmstad. What is wrong with just having 30, 50, 70 and 90 on normal roads across Sweden. There would be less stress having to worry if it's a 40/50 or 60 zone your driving in.

Still it's so much better driving in Sweden( Uppsala excluded) then Britain.
11:04 October 14, 2011 by Keith #5083
In 40 years of driving I've only ever got 3 tickets, all disputable!(1 in UK,1 in Norway, 1 in Sweden) However, I love driving in Sweden, almost empty roads, good roads, etc. My only gripe is these damnable 'speed cameras' which seem to breed overnight in my area of Sweden.

My main objection to them is simple - they are enormously distracting! Searching for them to be certain you don't pay a big fine for being 12% over the speed is one of the biggest hazards on today's roads.

It would also be useful to know how often they are 'checked and recalibrated'

Far better are the big LED signs that tell you you are going faster than the permitted speed.It's not always easy to concentrate on everything that's happening...as even Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso can tell you.
14:54 October 14, 2011 by SeeK
Having driven between northern Stockholm and Ängelholm several times a year for five years now, I know that most of that stretch is 120 kph - and I also know most people are doing 130-140. They're wide, well-maintained motorways and yet that journey takes just shy of six hours because of this. I think 140 would be a good level, but I'm sure Trafikverket won't agree.

Regardless, this is quite an interesting oversight on their part.
16:52 October 14, 2011 by Bender B Rodriquez
Tailgates are only stressful if you care. As a Swede I simply don't care about them.

I agree that cameras can be distracting sometimes, but at least they warn when a camera is ahead. Also, most cameras are turned off anyway.

To the one complaining about many speed limits: if you cannot remember what speed limit it is you should focus more on your driving and less on other things. It is not rocket science...
16:59 October 14, 2011 by 160kph
Maybe it's not rocket science, but driving can be stressful enough so what is the point of over complicating things by having so many different speed limits, especially when they can change so many times in such a short distance.
20:06 October 14, 2011 by Keith #5083

True, often there is a 'camera ahead warning' and AFTER the camera a sign telling you what speed you should have been doing. In some countries, like Norway, no speed signs before, camera signs and 17 kms later a speed sign! Try the tunnel at Oslofjord!!
20:47 October 14, 2011 by Bender B Rodriquez
@keith: I don't think I have ever seen a camera sign that was not posted underneath a speed sign placed well ahead of the speed camera.
23:55 October 14, 2011 by Keith #5083

It was the very fact that it was so illogical to place camera signs without a speed sign on the same pole that has drawn my attention to them in Scandinavia. I thought it was simply a way for sign companies to make more money...having seperate signs!

I will agree, however, that Sweden does seem to favour an attitude of trying to influence motorists to drive more carefully with advice, as opposed to the habit of some Nordic lands of simply influencing your bank balance.

I cannot imagine how other foreigners, like tourists, manage to understand.
16:04 October 15, 2011 by willowsdad
Good. Now find us a loophole by which we can smoke in a pub and Sweden may go back on my list of places worth visiting.
14:08 October 16, 2011 by J Jack
....Administration was shuttered in April of last year, wording in Sweden's traffic laws was changed to so that the new Transport Administration.... Google translation?
14:39 October 16, 2011 by Rick Methven
@Keith #5083

Get yourself a good GPS with speed camera warning. My Navigon gives me a Traffic control warning 300 m before a camera and warns me if I am more than 5kph over the speed limit.. That and my cruise control/speed limiter keeps me relaxed about speed cameras.


Problems with tail gaiters is that you always worry if they can stop if you do, or wi8ll they use your rear end to bring them to a halt
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