Sweden launches new ‘texting at the wheel’ law

Sweden launches new 'texting at the wheel' law
File photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
A new law that restricts drivers' mobile phone usage went into effect on Sunday, but even Swedish police remain in the dark about the finer points.

Amendments to Swedish law were put into effect on Sunday, stating that motorists' mobile phone usage is to be more closely monitored by police. Up until the weekend, Swedes could freely text or speak on their phone without using handsfree, while driving a vehicle.

While drivers can still communicate on their phones, they are no longer permitted to use them or their GPS in any manner that could be deemed "detrimental" to their driving. 

"There is no mobile ban. It is only if it is detrimental to the actual driving, and what that means is up to the police," Hans-Yngve Berg of the Swedish Transit Authority (Transportstyrelsen) told Sveriges Television (SVT).

Police have not been given any clear guidelines as to how they should deal with drivers who are on their phones.

"We have really no instructions," said Bengt Svensson of the national police force's traffic unit. "We won't see the practical significance until after a few convictions."

Sweden remains on an increasingly thinning list of European countries allowing mobile phone use while driving, without using hands-free. The others on the list being Albania, Serbia, Moldova and Malta.

In April last year, the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute (Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut –VTI), handed a report to the government stating that there was no reason to ban texting and talking on mobile phones without hands-free while driving.

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