This Stockholm street just became the first in Sweden to ban old diesel cars

From today onwards, some cars will no longer be allowed to use one of southern Stockholm's main thoroughfares.

This Stockholm street just became the first in Sweden to ban old diesel cars
Old diesel cars are no longer allowed on Hornsgatan. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Hornsgatan runs from north to west on Stockholm's Södermalm island. It is a busy street lined with shops, bars and restaurants, and one of the quickest ways for drivers to get from Slussen to Liljeholmen.

It is also one of the Swedish capital's most polluted streets, and other measures such as banning studded winter tyres have previously been adopted in order to improve its air quality.

And on January 15th, a ban on old diesel cars comes into force on the street.

It follows a decision by the Swedish government in 2018 to make it possible for local authorities to create so-called environmental zones, and was a key question in the local election in Stockholm the same year.

The scheme was eventually pushed through by the Green Party, who have been ruling in coalition with centre-right parties in Stockholm City Council since the election, with opponents claiming a diesel ban was unnecessary due to the continuing improvement of air quality in the Swedish capital.

The ban means that only newer diesel engines meeting the emission standards of Euro 5 and Euro 6 will be permitted in the zone, and by 2022 only Euro 6 will be allowed. In practice, this bans most cars older than 11 years, but note that the older cars will still be allowed to cross Hornsgatan.

There are already class-one environmental zones for heavy vehicles in place in several Swedish cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Mölndal, Uppsala, Helsingborg, Lund and Umeå). But Hornsgatan is the first street in Sweden to introduce a class-two environmental zone for passenger cars.

According to Swedish public broadcaster SVT, around 4,000 of the 24,000 cars that use Hornsgatan every day will now be forced to take a detour. Emergency vehicles are however not affected by the ban.

Alternative routes from Slussen to Liljeholmen or to the E4/E20 motorway through the city are the Söder Mälarstrand street and then Västerbron, alternatively Götgatan or Söderledstunneln south, joining the 75 westbound through Årsta before reaching Liljeholmen or the motorway. In any case, unless you have no other option, public transport is usually more convenient than driving in central Stockholm.

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EXPLAINED: When can a child sit in the front seat of a car in Switzerland?

Babies and children must be safely secured in a child’s car seat designed for their weight and age group whenever they travel in a car in Switzerland. We look at the rules around driving with children.

EXPLAINED: When can a child sit in the front seat of a car in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, a simple rule for taking children in motor vehicles has been in place for a good two decades: Every child up to a height of 150 cm or the age of 12 must travel in a suitable child seat.

Its Austrian neighbour has even stricter rules in place. Babies and children in Austria must be correctly secured in a child’s seat up to the age of 14 if they are below 135 cm in height.

The German law takes a more relaxed approach and regulates that children from the age of 12 or those that are taller than 150 cm can ride in the vehicle without a child seat – with the appropriate seat belt, of course.

When can a child sit in the front?

According to the law in Switzerland, once a child has reached a height of 150 cm, they can sit anywhere in the car with or without a child or booster seat.

However, a child needs to reach a minimum height of 150 cm for the safety belts to guarantee their safety in a way that the neck is not constricted while driving in the event of sudden braking or an accident.

In principle, children are allowed to sit on the front passenger seat regardless of their age, however, this is not recommended by experts who argue that children are much safer in the back of the car. Furthermore, if a vehicle is equipped with airbags, rear-facing car seats may only be used if the front airbag on the passenger’s side is deactivated.

A driver at the Stelvio Pass, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland.

A driver at the Stelvio Pass, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland. Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Can I be fined for my child travelling without an appropriate car seat?

You can and you will. The fine for transporting an unsecured child under the age of 12 is 60 francs, which, given the risk driving without an appropriate child seat poses to your child’s life, is mild. 

But what about public transport?

Though this may seem illogical to some, Switzerland does not have any safety laws dictating that car seats be used on its buses, meaning it is not uncommon to see mothers standing in the aisle of a packed bus with a baby in a sling while struggling to hold on to a pole for stability.

Though politicians did briefly discuss equipping buses with baby and child seats in 2017 to avoid potential risks to minors, nothing came of it. Ultimately, supplying buses with special seats or introducing seat belts proved unrealistic given the number of seats and considering how often people hop on and off a bus – there is a stop almost every 300 metres in Switzerland.

Instead, drivers are now better informed of the dangers posed to minors travelling on their vehicles and parents are advised to leave children in strollers and not load those with heavy shopping bags.