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Tips for Driving in Scandinavia

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Tips For Driving In Scandinavia

Driving through the Northern European cities of Scandinavia can be a beautiful experience. The air is clean, the scenery is breathtaking and in general the roads are extremely good with courteous drivers. If you’re planning to drive through Denmark, Norway, Finland, or Sweden on a long road trip, there are some essential road laws to follow and remember while travelling to keep you safe and happy.

Common Road Rules Throughout Scandinavia

Many Scandinavian countries have similar laws to each other and their regulations for driving can be almost identical in many places. Some of the areas they have in common are:

  • Seat Belts – You must wear your seatbelt at all times in the car. You’re responsible for ensuring that all your passengers are safe, so always make sure that people buckle up when you’re driving
  • Lights Switched On – You should be aware that throughout Scandinavian countries, it’s a legal requirement to have your headlights on at all times, even during the day. Dipped headlights are best during the day
  • Speed Limits – Generally the speed limits are the same across all Scandinavian countries. Populated areas are 50 km/h, open country roads are 80 km/h and highways are 110 km/h
  • Right Hand Side – Always remember to drive on the right hand side throughout Scandinavia
  • Drink Driving – As in most European countries, there are very strict laws against alcohol intake and driving. You can be fined, lose your licence or be jailed, so avoid it at all costs
  • Watch for Cyclists – There are lots of cyclists and cycle lanes throughout Scandinavia, so always watch for them and stay alert to their position on the road
  • Insurance - Always ensure that you have adequate car insurance before heading off. Speak to your motor insurer or contact a specialist

Driving in Denmark

Denmark has great road conditions and their public transport system is extremely good. This means that the roads don’t tend to suffer too much congestion, but as with any major city, there will be traffic jams at certain times. You should carry a warning triangle in your car in case of a breakdown and always make sure you have headlight converters on your car there if you’re taking your own car from the UK. You must also remember that it’s law in Denmark to always indicate when changing lanes on a motorway. People will consider you a poor driver if you don’t indicate and you can actually be fined for not doing so. Fines incurred in Denmark can be reported to the UK authorities so make sure you’re driving safely at all times. Keep your drivers licence, passport and car insurance papers with you at all times in case you’re asked for those by authorities.

Driving in Sweden

Sweden has very similar road rules and tips to Denmark but they overall have a lower number of road deaths per year. Their recent figures show around 4.9 road deaths per 100,000 population in comparison to the UK average of 5.5. In Sweden one of the most crucial points to consider is the winter conditions. You should have your car fitted with winter tyres if you’re planning on travelling there between the months of November to March - it isn’t law, but it’s definitely advisable. You should also have a GB sticker on your car and carry a reflective warning triangle in the event of a breakdown. Speed signs are usually round and are yellow with a red outline. You will need your driving licence, insurance papers and registration papers to drive legally in Sweden, so keep them with you at all times.

Driving in Finland

Driving in Finland is hazardous during the winter months, similar to Sweden. You should be aware of icy roads and if you’re driving there you must have your car fitted with winter tyres (either studded or non-studded). This is a legal requirement, so make sure you’re prepared before you go. In general the road conditions are very good and public transport is excellent, so consider parking outside of cities and using the public transport system if you can. Drink driving in Finland is an extremely serious offence and you could end up with a long prison sentence if you’re caught. Avoid taking any alcohol if you’re planning to drive.

Driving in Norway

Norway is similar to driving in most other Scandinavian countries and has a lower road death number than the UK. You don’t need an international driving licence to drive there and your UK licence is sufficient. In winter, the long and winding roads there can be difficult to manoeuvre, so take your time and drive safely. Keep your headlights on at all times and stick to the speed limit. Fines are extremely high should you break the speed limit and be caught, so keep this in mind. If you find yourself on a road that isn’t marked with a priority sign (which looks like a yellow diamond) then you need to give way to traffic approaching from the right.

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