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Calls For A Highlands Driving Permit

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Calls For A Highlands Driving Permit

Photo: Dagmar Trodler

Páll Jónsson, a guide and a policeman, suggest putting a stop to illegal off-road driving by issuing a special highland driving license, RÚV reports. Páll asserts that authorities are not doing enough to stop off-road driving in the highlands, which is extremely damaging to nature. Not only are the tracks an eyesore, but they can lead to environmental destruction as off-road driving can lead to destruction of land and soil erosion.

Páll suggests that the whole of the highlands be turned into a national park, and that those who wish to travel there obtain a special driving license. The eager travellers would have to watch an instructional video and pay a fee of 5000 krónur for the special highland driving permit.

Off road driving has been increasingly reported this summer, with 10 incidents alone reported in June. Many incidents go unreported, however, and authorities have stipulated heavy fines for violators.

“For me personally, it hurts to go to Landmannalaugar in its current state – in this beautiful landscape it hurts to see how things have become. And once you enter Skeiðarársandur, everything has been driven over. I can’t remember the conditions being worse than now, alongside the road”, Páll commented.

Páll asserts that Icelanders are somewhat lost when it comes to preventing off-road driving. “We put some stickers into the rental cars and, sometimes, we have staff ask the drivers to not drive off-road. This is nonsense and it clearly doesn’t work”.

His plans account for aspiring highland drivers to sit through a 15-minute long instructional video, if they wish to rent a car and intend to go to the highlands. The video would have a national park ranger and a police offer explain the rules of highland driving to travellers. Once travellers have sat through the video they would pay the one time fee, which would then be fed back into the system to pay for policing the highland area, rescue team services, national park rangers, and even public toilets.

“The current system is not enough. It’s been tried and tested and it doesn’t work”, Páll finally stated.

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