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.

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.

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 very 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 are lazy and continue rolling forward instead of stopping!

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.

Important clarification regarding the priority road sign

Priority road

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:

  • 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 unless the road was not a priority road before the junction as well. Study the picture below:

Priority road, example
The priority road sign is posted directly after the junction = priority road before the junction as well.

The right-hand 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 right-hand rule is to be applied.
  • The right-hand rule does not only apply in junctions, but any time vehicles cross paths.

Important clarification regarding the right-hand rule sign

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

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

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

The right-hand rule does not apply

Examples of the right-hand rule

Junction Explanation
Right-hand rule, example 1 B must give way to A, and A must in turn give way to C. This means that according to the right-hand 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).
Right-hand 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.
Right-hand rule, example 3 The roads do not have to intersect at a 90° angle. The right-hand rule is applicable here as well. A is to give way to B.
Right-hand rule, example 4 The right-hand rule is also applicable in open areas. B is to give way to A.

The turning rule

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

Example of the turning rule

Junction Explanation
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 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 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).

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Last updated 2017-09-07.