The number of foreign tourists seriously injured in automobile accidents in Iceland increased by 80 percent during the first ten months of last year compared to the same period the previous year, RÚV reports. The head of the Icelandic Transport Authority suggest a lack of education about the dangers of driving in Iceland may be part of the reason.
Numbers for November and December of last year have not yet been analyzed, which is why comparison to previous years is based on the first ten months of every year.
During the first ten months of 2013, 107 foreign tourists were injured in traffic accidents in the country. Seventeen of those were seriously injured, and two died. The following year, the number of injured tourists was somewhat lower, and none of them died. The year 2015, on the other hand, saw a huge increase, when 186 foreign tourists were injured in automobile accidents, 24 of them seriously, and four died. The number of injured was similar last year, but of those 43 were seriously injured, representing an 80 percent increase in a year.
Þórólfur Árnason, head of the Icelandic Transport Authority reported that part of the explanation for the increase is heavier traffic. He added, “In addition, education for those unfamiliar with Icelandic [driving] conditions has not been good enough.”
When asked why not, he replied, “Both because we weren’t familiar with those drivers—didn’t know how unprepared they were for driving in Iceland—and funding has been lacking. Fortunately, improvements are impending.”
Þórólfur described the drivers’ education Icelanders receive as good. “But we’re dealing with young, foreign drivers, who haven’t received such education, haven’t been taught as well how to drive, and haven’t received as much practice driving.”
He stated that increased funding would be used for distributing educational information via social media, at hotels, car rentals and other similar locations. “We’ve seen the effects of increased education for Icelandic drivers in recent years, and of course it’s very effective for foreign drivers as well.”