Driving on a motorway

Contents

Entering a motorway

You normally enter motorways via a slip road with an acceleration lane. You use the acceleration lane to match your speed to that of the motorway traffic and to find a safe gap in traffic to slip into.


Motorway entry slips roads normally have an acceleration lane

It is important that you turn on the indicators well in advance of entering the motorway and that you check your vehicle's blind spot before leaving the acceleration lane and entering the motorway itself.

Mutual consideration applies when you leave the acceleration lane and merge with motorway traffic. Drivers on the motorway must help you by adjusting their speed and, if possible, changing to the left lane. However, the main responsibility for ensuring that the lane change is safe is yours.


When entering a motorway the main responsibility rests on you, but drivers on the motorway must also do what they can to facilitate your entry

When you are driving on a motorway, it is the other way around: you must do what you can to facilitate the entry of other drivers.

In rare cases a motorway has no acceleration lane. When entering a motorway without an acceleration lane you must give way to all traffic on the motorway.

When you have entered the motorway you must check traffic behind you and, if necessary, accelerate firmly in order to reach the speed limit as quickly as possible.

Motorway

This road sign tells you that a motorway begins. The road sign is posted on motorway entry slip roads and in places where another type of road becomes a motorway.

All rules that apply to motorways also apply to clearways.

Driving on a motorway

Motorways are statistically the safest roads, despite the high speeds involved. This is mainly because there is no oncoming traffic, no junctions and no pedestrians, cyclists or moped riders on motorways. However, when something does go wrong, due to the high speeds the consequences are usually severe.

One of the most important things to consider when driving on motorways is to keep a safe distance to the vehicle in front. When you drive at 110 km/h you travel over 30 metres per second, which means stopping distances are very long.


Always keep a safe distance to the vehicle in front

If you are too close to a vehicle in front which suddenly brakes, you risk hitting it from behind. If the vehicle behind you is also too close when this happens, the situation can quickly escalate into a serious multi-vehicle crash.

Read more about following distance

On motorways you should drive in the lane that is furthest to the right in the direction of travel. Other lanes should only be used when overtaking slower vehicles and to make it easier for drivers to enter the motorway.

After you have used another lane to overtake a slower vehicle or to make it easier for another driver to enter the motorway, you should return to the right-hand lane as soon as it is safe to do so.


On motorways you should drive in the lane that is furthest to the right in the direction of travel

Prohibitions

It is prohibited to stop, turn around and reverse on motorways.

On all motorways, there are turning areas at the side of the road, as well as gaps in the central barrier, at regular intervals – these are only to be used by rescue, police, salvage and road maintenance vehicles.

If you need to turn around on a motorway, you should take the first regular exit and then drive back onto the motorway using the nearest entry slip road.


You are not allowed to drive through the gaps in the central barrier. They are only to be used by rescue, police, salvage and road maintenance vehicles

It is also prohibited to drive on the hard shoulder. On motorways the hard shoulder should only be used for emergency stops and towing.

If you are forced to make an emergency stop you should stop as far out on the hard shoulder as possible. You must also put out a warning triangle 50-100 metres behind your car. You are also obligated to move your car as soon as possible.

Towing must be done on the hard shoulder and only to the first suitable exit. When towing, 30 km/h is the highest permitted speed.

On motorways and clearways it is prohibited to:

Speed

Unless otherwise stated, the maximum speed limit on motorways is 110 km/h. However, the speed limit is often lower and on some stretches of motorway the speed limit is 120 km/h.

There is no minimum speed limit on motorways. However, only motor vehicles designed for a speed of at least 40 km/h* may use motorways.

This does not mean that you may always drive at 40 km/h on motorways. You must maintain an appropriate speed that is adapted to the traffic situation and which does not exceed the speed limit, just like on any other type of road.

* Exception: Mopeds class 1 are not allowed to use motorways, even though they are designed for a maximum speed of 45 km/h.


An example of when you may drive slowly on motorways is when there is heavy traffic

Recommended maximum speed

On some road sections, there are adjustable electronic road signs that show a recommended maximum speed. The stated speed is always lower than the posted speed limit. It is therefore legal – but inappropriate – to drive at a higher speed. However, if the stated speed is surrounded by a red circle, you must not drive at a higher speed.


Recommended maximum speed

These road signs are only activated when there is heavy traffic or when conditions are temporarily such that it is appropriate to reduce speed.

Automatic traffic surveillance

On Swedish roads, there are approximately 1,500 road safety cameras deployed which photograph vehicles driving too fast.

The purpose of these cameras is not to fine as many drivers as possible, but to decrease the number of accidents by reducing average speeds. For this reason, these cameras are never hidden and road signs always indicate when a road section is monitored by cameras.

These cameras are deployed on the most hazardous roads. They work both day and night, throughout the year, and only photograph vehicles that are driving too fast.


Both the average speed and the number of accidents decrease on roads where there are road safety cameras

Time gain per 10 kilometres

Despite being both dangerous and prohibited, many drivers exceed speed limits in an attempt to save time. However, the actual time gain per 10 kilometres at a speed increase of 10-20 km/h is actually quite small, and continues to decrease the faster you drive.

On the other hand, increasing your speed by 10-20 km/h greatly extends the stopping distance. In other words, by driving too fast, you take a great risk to save a little bit of time.


The time gain per 10 kilometres at a speed increase of 10-20 km/h is quite small

If you increase your average speed by 10 km/h, the approximate time gain per 10 kilometres is:

Exiting a motorway

You always exit motorways via an exit slip road with a deceleration lane. You use the deceleration lane to slow down to a safer speed.

Before all motorway exits there is first a preparatory exit sign, then an exit sign and finally an exit divider, where the exit slip road branches off from the motorway.


Preparatory exit sign


Exit sign


Exit divider

On many major roads, the preparatory exit signs and exit signs are provided with an exit number. Exit numbers make it easier to give and follow directions.


Exit number

Exit slip roads

Motorway exit slip roads are usually designed so that you do not have to slow down until you have entered the deceleration lane on the actual slip road.

It is easy to become speed blind during motorway driving. Always check the speedometer when you approach your exit to ensure that you are not driving too fast.


Always check your speed before turning off motorways

You should start reducing your speed immediately upon entering the deceleration lane. If the deceleration lane is unusually short, turns sharply or is followed by a sharp bend then you may have to start braking before entering the deceleration lane. This is often the case when you exit a clearway.

Clearways and 2+1 roads

Clearways (also known as dual carriageways) are roads that are very similar to motorways, and they are regulated in the same way. They do differ, however, in some regards.

Although most clearways in Sweden have been rebuilt with a central barrier, which means that they are free of oncoming traffic, there are still some clearways left with oncoming traffic. However, all clearways in Sweden are free of junctions.

As opposed to motorways, you usually do not enter clearways via slip roads with acceleration lanes. When entering a clearway without an acceleration lane you must give way to all traffic on the clearway.

The exit slip roads on clearways are usually shorter than on motorways, and they are often followed by a turn. This means that you may have to start braking earlier when exiting a clearway than when exiting a motorway.

Clearway

This road sign tells you that a clearway begins. The road sign is posted at clearway entry slip roads and in places where another type of road becomes a clearway.

2+1 roads

2+1 roads are clearways or regular country roads that have two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other, alternating every few kilometres, and are separated with a central barrier (usually a steel cable barrier). The second lane allows faster-moving traffic to overtake slower vehicles at regular intervals.

On 2+1 roads, head-on collisions are much less common than on country roads and clearways without a central barrier.


Just ahead of the white car, the carriageway alternates from having one lane to having two lanes

Most 2+1 roads are clearways, but not all. Some 2+1 roads are common country roads. When driving on 2+1 country roads you must be prepared for junctions, pedestrians, cyclists and slow-moving vehicles such as tractors.

Hazards

Motorways, clearways without oncoming traffic and 2+1 roads are relatively safe roads. But in the case of an accident, the consequences are usually severe because of the high speeds involved. In order to minimize the risk of an accident when driving on such a road, it is important that you:


Motorways are statistically the safest roads, but the accidents that occur on them are often very serious