How I got a Swedish driving licence for passenger car (class B)

I was able to clear the theory exam in the first go but it took me 3 attempts to pass the practical exam.

BHPian recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello, Folks!

I'm starting this thread to journal my experience driving in Sweden, and beyond. I will try to keep the posts medium-form, and if there are requests for more details I will be happy to oblige.

With that, let's begin where most expats would begin their driving journey in Sweden...

The Swedish Passenger Car B Driving License - (Körkort Personbil B)

I must confess, I prefer motorcycles to cars, quite heavily. I'm happy riding long hours, sore muscles and all, but have never been quite comfortable behind the steering wheel. A bit of background, I never owned a car in India and didn't really make many efforts to step out of my comfort zone to get better at driving. This impeded my ability to get a DL in Sweden immensely. I suppose I could try to psychoanalyze the reasons why I never ended up driving in India, but this is not therapy, so let's move swiftly on! As they say, the best time to do something was yesterday, and the next best time is now.

The following steps comprise the process of obtaining the Swedish passenger car DL. As you can see, it's a journey, and that's how most people refer to it.

The website from where the screen grab was taken.

@supermax has an excellent post on obtaining the license.

Instead of rehashing the information already available on the forum, I will instead write about my experience.

Learner's permit + Eye Test

I filled out the online form, set up an appointment for an eye test for a couple of days later.

Since my vision is 20/20 with glasses the optician digitally approved my application, and I received the learner's permit on the way back home.

Easy, peasy!

Brimming with optimism, and a smidgen of overconfidence I forged ahead.

Driving Lessons

I had to go with the more expensive route of lessons with a driving school as there was no option of getting private lessons. Not legally, at least. Some people do end up taking lessons with private individuals advertising on Facebook or through word-of-mouth.

"I probably don't need many lessons", past me had thought. He was quickly humbled when it came to actually driving on the roads. Overall I ended up taking 17 lessons. Each lesson was 80 minutes long, and I would be driving around 60-70 minutes, depending on the pre and post discussions.

Booking lessons needed a bit of planning as most schools are inundated with students in the summer time. The lessons themselves are easy enough to book - enroll in a school, select lessons through the app or website, show up and get schooled.

There is honestly a lot to talk about on the driving part, I could probably make a single post only on negotiating roundabouts (my Achille's heel).

Risk 1 & Risk 2

Sweden has a "Vision for Zero Road Accidents", and to achieve this goal it is required that all license aspirants complete two Risk trainings of 4 hours each in any order BEFORE the theory exam can be attempted.

Risk 1 is a theory session with discussions and instructions on the different risks on the road, and how to identify and mitigate the risks. These sessions are offered by most driving schools, and I chose to do this with my school I was already taking driving lessons.

Risk 2 is a practical session where there are discussions around speed and stopping distances, unfavorable road conditions, and what it feels like when the vehicle loses control and aquaplanes (scary!). I chose one of the three schools in Gothenburg offering this session, and by far this was one of the best experiences on this long journey.

The car was kitted with a special "lift-kit" which could be controlled to lift each wheel independently to reduce friction and mimic different road conditions or tire conditions.

With four people in a group, we started with panic braking at different speeds, and moved on to the famous "moose-test".

Then came the fun part. The car was raised to mimic icy conditions, we were instructed to drive to 50 km/hour and brake hard! The car would swerve and swing around, and because it was a controlled environment it was mostly fun, with mild amounts of helpless panic mixed in.

This was followed by experiencing understeering and oversteering by raising the front and rear axles respectively.

In terms of real world experience, this session was truly eye-opening. There was no way to control a car in a blind skid. Counter steering, ABS, pumping the brakes - nothing worked. Well, maybe Colin McRae might be able to figure out something, I couldn't.

Attending the sessions, interacting with the group, and doing what the instructor says is enough to clear these sessions.

LINK 1 and LINK 2

The Theory Exam

The B license for passenger vehicles is the most approachable Driving License exam in Sweden as it is offered in 14 languages. There are 70 questions out of which 5 are control questions, so they don't count. Out of the 65 graded questions, one needs a score of 52 to pass.

I chose to study from a book and online resources. The driving school app had an extensive theory section with mock exams. It was a bit of a grind, but it served well, and coupled with the practical lessons I was able to clear the theory exam in the first go with a score of 59. Not bad!

Exams can be booked here.

The Practical Exam

How the practical exams work is that you book a time slot, show up, and an instructor will call out your name when ready to go. After an identification check the instructor leads you to a randomly assigned car (any one of the many Kias, Skodas, VWs and Volvos in their fleet in Gothenburg).

The instructor will brief you on the exam before starting, say good luck, then will provide instructions on either which direction to take (left or right), or which destination or road sign to follow (drive towards Oslo. Now stop following Oslo, drive to Centrum). Some part of the exam is city driving, and some of it is residential area driving. Somewhere on this journey, they would ask you to perform a parking maneuver, and a driving around the corner maneuver.

Minor isolated mistakes do not mean a fail. Larger egregious ones do, however, and repeating the same mistakes again and again would disqualify you. The result is shared immediately at the end of the drive.

I cleared the practical exam on my third try. Quite disappointing! A bitter antithesis of the theory exam.

Trial 1 - I missed a yield sign towards the end of the drive and the instructor had to intervene because I was approaching the intersection too fast. This was an immediate fail. The feedback was positive on most parts, however, I needed to scan the road better and improve the way I approached roundabouts.

Trial 2 - This unravelled fairly early. Driving through the city streets there was a garbage truck parked on the side close to a zebra crossing. I did not slow down sufficiently crossing the truck to prevent hitting anyone who might hypothetically jump out from behind the truck, and the instructor intervened by braking. So that's that. The drive back was mere ceremony and I was promptly told I failed. On introspection, I had dropped the ball before the exam began. I was running late, harried, stressed, and carrying a ball of lead in my stomach.

Trial 3 - I approached this in a more calm manner, and with more practise. Reached 30 minutes early, did some deep breathing, cleared my mind, went over the routines. On actually driving improved upon the things I missed out on the 2nd trial, and scanned further ahead for directions and other road users. Even the roundabouts couldn't stop me that day! But there was one final twist.

On reaching the parking spot I noticed the instructor had a serious look on his face. He prefaced by saying, "So on today's drive -", let the words hang in the air for a couple of excruciating seconds, then broke out in a wide smile and said, "- you have passed. Congratulations!"

Joy, relief, mild annoyance at the prank, pride. Quite a gamut of emotions in a short span of time. This was months in the making, if not a complete year.

I passed the driving exam in a Kia Niro hybrid. It had some of the newer safety features like lane keep assist and was quite easy to drive. Forgive me for not remembering which cars I failed in, since I'm a reasonable human being those cars are forever dead to me. Of course, I only joke.

The Driving License Card

A few days after clearing the exam, I received a bill for payment of the DL card, and a few days after that I could pick up the card from the nearest post service point.

Although one can start driving immediately after the exam is passed, this was not an option for me as I don't own a car yet. I intend to rent cars using car-sharing services, and for that having the DL card is necessary.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Seat belts save lives