Even though they’re too young to receive a driver’s license at 15, Swedish teens are already zooming around in stylish cars – with some modifications and using old A-traktor regulations. These vehicles have been altered so that their speed never exceeds golf carts.
Thanks to a nearly century-old law on farming equipment, kids aged fifteen and above are permitted to drive without having their driver’s license as long as the vehicle has been modified so that its maximum speed can never exceed 30 kilometres per hour.
A-Traktor EPA’s have been on the rise.
These vehicles, affectionately referred to as an “A-traktor” or EPA (for its older designation), have become increasingly popular in recent years. Unfortunately, authorities are growing concerned about a nascent spike in vehicular accidents due to this surge in A-Traktor usage.
The news and social media have been littered with young kids receiving the vehicles as gifts. Last April, Evelina proudly stood in front of her dark blue 5-series BMW parked in the driveway of their family home in a southern suburb of Stockholm. On this day, she was celebrating her birthday and the success and hard work she had put into school – a special reward gifted by her parents for all those accomplishments.
Teens in Sweden don’t need to settle for a moped
While adolescents in other countries must settle with a moped or scooter until they can get their driver’s license, young Swedes are permitted to use almost any vehicle as long as its top speed is restricted. Astonishingly, it is common to spot teens driving Porsche Cayennes independently around Stockholm’s posh suburbs.
“I usually use it when I go to school or meet up with friends,” Evelina says.
A triangular warning sign in the back indicating a slow-moving vehicle and a hitch ball for trailers are mandatory for an “A-traktor”.
To ensure the safety of its drivers, a moped license (available for those 15 years old and up) or tractor license (for ages 16 and up) is mandatory to operate one of these vehicles. Additionally, back seats must be detached from the vehicle only to seat two people maximum – driver plus passenger.
Sweden is historically the pioneer of road safety.
Despite being recognised as a nation that values road safety and enforces strong laws governing drunk driving, Sweden surprisingly has lenient car modification regulations. This system was further liberalised in mid-2020 when the option to limit cars’ top speed electronically was first made available, thus simplifying modern vehicle customisation.
Criticism from EU.
It used to be that A-traktors were owned only by young people living in rural areas, but now more and more city kids are getting them. As a result, in a mere two and a half years, registered A-traktors have doubled from 25,000 to an impressive 50,000 across the nation’s population of 10.3 million inhabitants!
In response to the 1930s Great Depression, when tractors were difficult for farmers to acquire due to their extreme expense, the government allowed them an alternative: creating simple automobiles. This idea gave rise to today’s A-traktors—vehicles still widely used by many agricultural businesses!
Where did A-traktor EPA come from?
In the 1950s, as economic growth transpired and people could purchase authentic tractors, there was no further requirement for homemade ones. Nevertheless, these vehicles still offered tremendous value to underage citizens living in rural areas who weren’t old enough to obtain a driver’s license; they could traverse places public transport didn’t reach.
In 1963, the Swedish state formalised a regulation regarding using A-traktors that has been held a closely guarded secret for decades. Just two years ago, authorities mandated roadworthiness testing for such vehicles. Unfortunately, Sweden is bracing itself against potential confrontation with the European Commission due to their recent criticism and suggestion of requiring mandatory permits for these machines.
For some rural teens, the A-traktor symbolises their dreams for independence. It has also become a focal point in an emerging subculture emphasising customised cars and the Swedish music genre ‘EPA Dunk’, quickly gaining popularity.
17-year-old Ronja Lofgren of Karlstad, Sweden, has become a sensation with her remarkable 5.5-tonne Scania Vabis truck from 1964 that she and her father rescued from the scrap yard! A vibrant red and blue paint job and many dazzling headlights give the sturdy vehicle an even bolder look, while ‘Queen of the Road’ proudly graces its front bumper and ‘Go With Style’ on its rear end. All in all, it’s one superb ride that indeed turns heads wherever it goes.
The rise in road accidents
Since 2020, there has been an alarming fivefold increase in accidents involving A-traktors. Injuries related to these events have surpassed 200 annually, and sadly four people lost their lives due to such incidents only last year. While police and insurers are concerned by this development, it has provided a business opportunity for enterprising individuals.
Sweden’s transportation bureau has recently suggested that, like typical vehicles, wearing seatbelts and employing winter tires become mandatory.
Source: Euractiv News