Priority rules – driving licence theory

The basis of all priority rules is that no-one has any rights in traffic, only joint obligations. Different perspectives on the same situation:

  • “I have priority, as I am driving on a priority road.”
    The attitude that you have the right to something in traffic can be dangerous.
  • “The other cars are supposed to give way to me, as I am driving on a priority road.”
    Appropriate and safe attitude.

You intend to continue straight ahead. This is a situation where all drivers have obligations. Driver A must let you pass according to the turning rule, B must give way to you according to the priority-to-the-right rule, and nobody is allowed to enter the intersection if they risk having to stop in the middle of the intersection (the obstruction rule).

Obligation to give way

  • Let intersecting traffic pass.
  • You must clearly show that you intend to let the other road users go first. For example: brake in good time rather than creating uncertainty by braking hard just before the junction.
  • Stop if necessary, but this is not a requirement as in the obligation to stop.

The traffic light is turned off. This means that you should follow the give way sign.

Obligation to stop

  • Same as the obligation to give way, only you have to stop regardless of whether you think it is necessary.
  • You are not permitted to move slowly forwards, you have to come to a complete stop (a few seconds is often enough).
  • Stop right before the stop line. If there is no stop line, stop just before entering the road.
  • In case of a queue, each car must still come to a stop at the stop line. It is not permitted to tag along with the car in front of you.
  • All-way stop means that all the adjoining roads have an obligation to stop. The easiest solution is for whoever stopped first to also start driving again first. All-way stops are rare.

Not respecting the obligation to stop is a serious violation. It is one of the few things mentioned specifically in the law under the section on criteria to revoke a driving licence. In other words, you can lose your licence if you continue rolling forward instead of stopping!

You have to stop. If there are 100 cars in a line, every single one must stop regardless of how good visibility is.

Priority road

  • All those entering the priority road must give way to traffic already on it.
  • Indicated with a priority road sign at the start.
    • This sign is normally posted after every junction, unless it is evident that the priority road continues after the junction.
  • Ends when an end sign is posted.

Clarification regarding the priority road sign

The sign Priority road is posted after every junction, not before.

Why after the junction and not before?
– This is so that the adjoining cars will also see the sign and realise they are on a priority road.

If the sign is posted after the junction, then how do I know that the road is a priority road before the junction?
– There are normally several indications that you are on a priority road before the junction too:

Priority road, example.

Priority road before the junction as well.

  • If you are driving on the priority road, you have surely seen priority road signs earlier on (compare to how you remember the speed limit).
  • If you are turning into a priority road, there is often a sign or a road marking telling you that you have an obligation to stop or give way.

In addition, the Swedish Transport Agency specifies that a priority road sign is not posted directly after a junction if the road was not a priority road before the junction as well.

The priority-to-the-right rule

  • Give way to traffic from the right.
  • Applies in the absence of other priority rules.
  • The sign Junction is sometimes posted to clarify that the priority-to-the-right rule is to be applied.
  • The priority-to-the-right rule does not only apply in junctions, but any time vehicles cross paths.

Clarification regarding the priority-to-the-right rule sign

The sign Junction does not have to be posted for the priority-to-the-right rule to apply.

The sign is simply a clarification in particularly difficult junctions and most often it will not be posted where the priority-to-the-right rule is applicable.

But how come the sign is not always posted?
– The priority-to-the-right rule is applicable in so many places that this sign would fill up the whole traffic environment. The priority-to-the-right rule applies in parking areas, for example, and it would be unreasonable to post signs in every little intersection of the parking area.

The priority-to-the-right rule does not apply

  • When you are entering a priority road.
  • When you are driving on a priority road.
  • Where there are functional traffic signals.
  • In roundabouts.
  • Where the signs Give way or Obligation to stop are posted.
  • When you leave an acceleration lane.
  • When you are reversing.
  • When you are entering a road from an exit.

Examples of the priority-to-the-right rule

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 1

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 1

B must give way to A, and A must in turn give way to C. This means that according to the priority-to-the-right rule C is to drive first, then A and finally B.

However, in this case, it may be appropriate for B and C to drive at the same time and for A to go last, as A must also take the obstruction rule into account (they may not go into the junction and obstruct B).

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 2

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 2

A is approaching from the right from B’s perspective, which means that B must give way to A. The fact that A is turning onto B’s road or that B’s road is bigger is of no importance.

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 3

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 3

The roads do not have to intersect at a 90° angle. The priority-to-the-right rule is applicable here as well. A is to give way to B.

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 4

Priority-to-the-right rule, example 4

The priority-to-the-right rule is also applicable in open areas. B is to give way to A.

The priority-to-the-right rule applies here, since there are no indications that say otherwise (for example, road signs).

You enter an open area. The priority-to-the-right rule applies.

The priority-to-the-right rule sign is posted here. However, this sign is unusual. It is absent from most intersections where the priority-to-the-right rule applies.

You are not obliged to give way to the red car, since the priority-to-the-right rule is not applicable when reversing or when exiting a parking space. However, be careful, since the reversing driver may not see you.

The turning rule

You may not hinder or cross the path of oncoming traffic when turning left.

Example of the turning rule

Example of the turning rule.

As A crosses B’s path, A must give way to B. This rule applies even if A has a green light (B can have a green light at the same time).

The exit rule

The exit rule means that you have an obligation to give way when exiting:

The exit rule, example

The exit rule, example

The car is entering a road from a property and has an obligation to give way.

Clarification about crossing a footpath or bicycle path

The exit rule does not apply if there is a pedestrian crossing, a bicycle passage or a bicycle crossing at the junction. The exit rule only applies at uninterrupted footpaths or bicycle paths. A pedestrian crossing, a bicycle passage or a bicycle crossing always interrupts the footpath or bicycle path.

Crossing a footpath or bicycle path in connection to a regular road junction is unusual. In most cases, the footpath or bicycle path ends before the junction and starts again after the junction. This means that the exit rule does not apply.

The priority-to-the-right rule does not apply if a vehicle approaches from the right (red arrow). This is because it is a parking facility. Vehicles exiting the parking facility have an obligation to give way when exiting.

The bus rule

  • 50 km/h or slower: You must give way to the bus if it indicates to exit (only applicable to the lane furthest to the right).
  • Over 50 km/h: The bus should always give way to you.

The bus rule, example

The bus rule, example

Only car B is obligated to give way to the bus.

The obstruction rule

  • Try to never stop in a junction, on a pedestrian crossing or similar.

Give way and do not hinder

  • Emergency response vehicles (ambulance, police and fire brigade).
    • This is only applicable when they have their blue lights and/or sirens turned on.
  • Trains and trams.
  • Military convoys.
  • Processions of different kinds (such as children with teachers and funeral processions).
Give way to trams.

Cars are obliged to give way to you. This does not apply to trams. You have to give way to trams crossing your path. (“Lämna fri väg för spårvagn” = “Give way to trams”)

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