Tourists can’t handle our roads, Iceland warns

Police in Iceland have said tourists searching for the Northern Lights are putting themselves at risk because they lack the expertise to handle driving on the country’s wintry roads.

Seeing the natural phenomenon, also known as the aurora borealis, is on many people’s “bucket list”.

But police say they are worried some visitors are paying more attention to scanning the sky for the spectacle than the roads they are driving on, which can be icy, twisty and narrow.

Akureyri Police Superintendent Johannes Sigfusson said: “Weather and road conditions are one thing but it also comes down to very problematic behaviour with some tourist drivers. Like when hitting the brake on the middle of a road for a sudden photo opportunity, with little or no warning for following drivers.

“In the dark, when the Northern Lights are out, this is an even greater hazard.”

The Northern Lights is also known as the aurora borealis
The Northern Lights is also known as the aurora borealis

The official warned the “weather changes every five minutes” in Iceland, adding: “This is something that is unusual for many of our foreign guests.

“It can go from being a dry road to being an icy and slippery road in a matter of minutes.”

Jeremy Tan, a tourist from Singapore, described driving on the roads as “tough”.

He said: “The days are very short during winter and so I have been driving in pitch black darkness for the most part for the past few days. And the roads are very narrow.

“Sometimes we get very strong winds. It is something that I am not quite used to coming from a small city.”

Of the 18 people who died in traffic crashes in Iceland in 2018, half of them were foreign nationals.

Last month, two British women and a baby girl died when the car they were in careered off a bridge in near Skeidararsandur – a vast sand plain in southern Iceland.

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