Last night I found myself in the basement of a building in downtown Almhult with thirteen other expats watching the film “To Kill a Child”. This was all part of the three hour required Swedish driver’s Risk Education course. As a non-EU citizen residing in Sweden, I have one year to procure a Swedish license, and it looks like the task will be daunting.
Sweden is serious about their driving safety and it will take a large financial commitment as well as the ability to pass multiple theoretical and practical tests to procure the coveted license. Luckily, as I already have a valid license from the US, I only have to complete the two part Risk Education course and then a theoretical and then practical test. Even so, the Risk Education course from last night cost 650SEK, the second part “Slippery Road Test” will cost 1900SEK, the theory test will be another 400SEK and the final practical test will be 800SEK. Total, that equals roughly $585USD, not including the eye exam and the recommended drive around practice with an instructor.
So here I am watching this very well made film not realizing that there was much worse to come. The next video clip was a very graphic representation about what could happen should one decide to text message while driving. Seven minutes later following about a five car pile up, no less than three skulls smashing through windows, a special appearance by the Jaws of Life, a child asking for his dead parents to wake up, and enough blood to cover a Rob Zombie film, I think I got the message that texting while driving is a bad idea. This was followed by an Oprah Winfrey segment dedicated to the true story of a woman named Jackie who had her face melted and was burned alive (and survived) in her car because she was hit by a drunk driver. Drunk driving is also a bad idea.
All in all, the training was pretty effective. While I really didn’t learn anything new it did a good job at reinforcing and bringing the message home regarding driving safety. What I really enjoyed about the experience actually had nothing to do with the content of the course, but witnessing the facilitation of the course and the interactions of the participants.
Talk about a cross-cultural experience. There were a total of 14 participants, 1 from Ghana, 1 from China, 1 from Russia, 1 from Pakistan, 3 from the USA, and 7 from India; all being facilitated by 2 Swedes who were both probably younger than any of the participants. The course had been translated from Swedish into English and the miscommunication across the cultural spectrum was awesome. Here is one example:
Instructor: “Everyday there are about 12,000 drunk drivers on the roads in Sweden. That is like every taxi you see is a drunk driver.”
Participant: “Every taxi driver is drunk!?”
What was really fun was the fact that the trainers kept posing questions and then the participants had to go to a corner of the room with a YES, NO, MAYBE answer that they agreed to. Then it turned into a barely controlled debate between the groups trying to force the other groups to admit that they were wrong, even when the trainers kept insisting there was no one right answer. As a cross-cultural trainer and someone that has spent the majority of the last five years training trainers, I was having an absolute blast watching this all go down and how the trainers were working to keep the course flowing, which they did a pretty good job at.
The course came to an end, we said Tack and Hej-Do to the trainers, and emerged into the cold cold night where the majority of the participants piled into their vehicles and drove away on the frozen snow covered roads, all without a proper Swedish license. For me, I walked home…it is much safer that way.
If you are interested in getting a Swedish license, please visit this website: www.korkortsportalen.se