While driving in Iceland there are many new things to be aware of for all of you who haven’t driven here before. There are seasonal dangers like snow, sleet, very strong winds, low sun, blind hills, free roaming animals and so on. One has to know the speed limits in Iceland , where you can park. The rules and regulations can be confusing at times but there is one danger we need to address and that is the Icelandic drivers!!! When you rent your car in Iceland, be prepared to that the drivers here differ a bit to what you are acustomed to.
Yes, the Icelandic driver is a different breed on the roads and are more common to find in less developed countries where driver’s licences are optional than up in the Arctic north (read this with sacrasm, irony and humor too.). Don’t get us wrong, this is not a generalization of all drivers here but there are enough of them to warrant a warning. So why do too many Icelandic drivers stand out then? Well, let’s mention a few things:
1. When you have parked your rental car in a parking lot and you are about to go reverse, be very careful for there are not many Icelanders that will stop for you in a civilized manner to let you reverse out of the parking space. Too often it’s the opposite, they make sure they can pass you before you are done. So look around at all times and stop if you see a car approaching you. Chances are he/she won’t stop for you.
2. If you see cars flying back and forth between lanes without using the turning lights, be aware. This is a phenomenon you see daily.
3. If you are driving on a multi-lane road during rush hour you will see a lot of drivers speeding beside you for they are in desperate need to be first and many drivers “protect” their lane position by staying very close to the cars ahead so change lane early and leave room in front of you to give room for those “in need” to be ahead of you.
4. A rather new feature on the traffic scene is that you can see are young women driving with their phone straight in front of their faces. Don’t worry, they are just Facebook driving. Stay far away from them. It’s extremely dangerous and forbidden.
5. When out driving in the countryside or maybe up in the highlands, you might see a 4×4 playing around offroad. It looks like fun and all that but it is strictly forbidden to do that. If you see someone doing that, take a picture of them, make sure you get the number plate and send it to the police.
6. Driving in snow in Iceland is not that bad. Many drive as the road condition allows them to but there are cars on bad tires getting stuck all over. So as always in tricky situations, drive carefully and be aware what your fellow drivers are up to.
7. When there is a big event going on like a football game, a concert or a conference, you will see cars parked in the most weirdest places. Parking rules does apply even during events and you will get fined if you park illegally. You will also see big, remodeled SUV’s parking in the most strange places like on rocks or even walls which is of course plain rude, not to mention illegal. We have yet to decide if they do that just because they can, want to show off their very capable vehicles or if they are under the influence which is of course very illegal.
Parking in general here seems to be challenging for many. You will see cars parked on the most strange places, most often parking like they are alone in the world. Parking in spaces like sidewalks, next to fire hydrants, blocking doors, other cars, taking up to 4 parking spaces in parking lots. After they have received a ticket, that are all suprised and angry for getting the ticket. There are even a few Icelandic Facebook groups where members post pictures of badly parked cars.
The drivers who top our list of rudeness are the ones who park in parking spaces specifically for handicapped persons. Those people deserves to have their cars confiscated, driver’s licenses shredded.
What do you think would be a suitable punishment?