"Would you let your child drive one of these Frankenstein cars?"

Nicola Foleher encounters a bizarre Swedish traffic jam caused by a teen driver in a souped-up, slow-moving vehicle. Is this a genius way to teach road safety or a recipe for disaster?

An A-traktor slowly pootling along. Menace or harmless?

An A-traktor slowly pootling along. Menace or harmless?

Foto: Tim Aro/SvD/TT

Engelska2024-04-22 09:00
Det här är en krönika. Åsikterna i texten är skribentens egna.

I still can’t get over it, and I can’t decide whether I think it is a great idea or a crazy one. 

Have you been happily driving along a quiet country road, not another vehicle in sight, when suddenly you come upon a long queue of traffic as far as the eye can see and with no evident reason for it?

It is clear that something is in the road causing a delay in the traffic; you can tell as the cars in front, are one by one overtaking something, but what? Perhaps a moose or herd of reindeer?

As you wait patiently for your turn to reach the front of the mystery traffic jam, you wonder what awaits, only to eventually be greeted by a very slow moving car with a hazard triangle secured to the back of it. 

The first thing you notice is the lack of registration plate. The second thing you notice, as you pass by and cast your eyes sideways, is that the car – which by the way can vary from a huge 4x4, a Porsche or BMW, to a classic American beat-up truck – is being driven by what very clearly appears to be a child!

No, your eyes do not deceive you! 

In Sweden, it is perfectly legal for a 15-year-old child to take to the road in any vehicle of their (or should I say their parents') choosing, so long as it fits a range of criteria set by the government. 

The most notable criterion is that the car or truck must have a limited speed capacity of 30 kilometers per hour. It must also have a hitch ball for trailers and there must be no back seats in the vehicle.

The driver can operate a speed restricted car by either attaining a moped licence at age 15 or a tractor licence at 16. They may only have one passenger.

Yes, this is the A-Traktor or EPA. 

By the 1950s real tractors became more readily available and there was no longer such a need for these cobbled-together Frankenstein cars; however, young teens living out in the countryside saw the chance to use them to realise their dreams of (very slow) independence!

Now, kids all over Sweden take great pride and joy in their wheels. But is it a good idea? 

Does it spark independence and road safety awareness, or is it simply a hazard and creator of traffic accidents? Would I feel happy allowing my daughters to drive an EPA. I just don’t think I would. How about you?

This is a column and the views are the author's own. 

This colmn was originally published at norran.se/english, the English part of norran.se.