Sweden takes another shot at banning texting behind the wheel

Normally so safety-conscious Sweden remains one of the very few European countries that still allow mobile phone use behind the wheel, without using hands-free. But that is about to change.

Sweden takes another shot at banning texting behind the wheel
Soon, you won't be allowed to do this in Sweden either. Photo: Erik Nylander/TT

The current law, introduced in 2013, only bans drivers from using their phones in a manner that could be deemed “detrimental” to their driving. Whether someone's driving is “detrimental” due to their mobile phone usage is down to the police to determine, but it has proven difficult in the past.

But on February 1st 2018, after much discussion, new regulations will come into force banning drivers, if not explicitly from calling or texting, then at least from doing so while holding the phone in their hand.

“Hands on the wheel, not on the mobile,” reads the government statement.

“It will be clearer now that you're not allowed to fiddle with the phone while you're out driving. A clearer rule means that more will follow it,” said Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth.

Last year, a survey by the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) found that 37 percent of Swedes text while driving. For those aged 18-30, the figure was 56 percent.

Another survey by vehicle testing agency Bilprovningen suggested even higher figures: seven out of ten of 2,000 respondents admitted to having read or sent a text message while behind the wheel.

The number of annual road deaths in Sweden has remained between 260 and 270 for the past three years. The tally of 2016 and 2013 was the lowest since the Second World War.

A total of 109 people died in traffic during the first six months of 2017, according to the Transport Agency, 12 fewer than the same period last year.

Sweden's worst years were 1965 and 1966 when 1,313 people died in traffic accidents, back when there were around 1.5 million cars on the roads and no smartphones, compared to almost five million cars today.

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Everything you need to know about Sweden’s fuel bonus

Sweden's fuel bonus, referred to by the government as a "fuel compensation", will be paid out to all car owners in Sweden. But how will it work, and how much money can car owners get?

Everything you need to know about Sweden's fuel bonus

What is the fuel bonus?

The new fuel bonus is designed to compensate drivers for the rising prices of fuel in Sweden caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It will be complemented by a number of other measures such as temporarily lowered taxes on fuel between June and October 2022 and a pause in renewable energy requirements for fossil fuels for 2023.

Who is eligible, and how much money will be available?

As a rule, those registered as owning or leasing a car in Sweden will receive 1000 kronor. This will only be awarded once per person, so if you have more than one car, you will still only get 1000 kronor.

Residents of some areas which the government has identified as particularly reliant on car transport will be awarded an additional 500 kronor on top of the 1000 kronor bonus. The full list of these areas is available here.

How do I get the bonus?

The details of the bonus have not yet been confirmed, but the government have said that they expect it will be paid out automatically.

When will it be available?

Again, there are no clear details on when exactly the bonus will be in car owners’ bank accounts, but the government is aiming for payments to go out in August.

Will I still get the bonus if I lease a car or have an electric car?

Yes. The bonus will be paid out to anyone owning or leasing a car in Sweden, regardless of how the car is powered.

If you have a company car registered in your name, you will receive the bonus. If the car is registered under the company’s name, you won’t be able to receive the fuel bonus.

Listen to a discussion on Sweden’s rising cost of living on Sweden in Focus, The Local’s podcast. 

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