Iceland Should Reverse Roundabout Rule

Iceland roundabout rule

Icelanders should reverse the unique rule that grants the inner lane the right of way in roundabouts, according to traffic safety specialist Ólafur Kr. Guðmundsson. Iceland’s parliament is in the process of revising the country’s traffic laws, and Ólafur told Vísir he hopes it will see fit to adopt international traffic regulations which give the outer lane the right of way in roundabouts.

Unique rule contradicts “right of way”

When it comes to exiting roundabouts, driving schools in Iceland teach students that vehicles in the inner lane have the right of way and those in the outer lane must yield. The fact that in most other nations the opposite is true may not have been a problem in the past, but an increase in foreign drivers on Icelandic roads means this difference in regulation is leading to accidents.

Ólafur says he doesn’t know of any nations besides Iceland which grant the inner lane the right of way in a roundabout. “This is the opposite of what other nations do,” he says, adding that Iceland’s rule contradicts one of the fundamental traffic regulations, the so-called “right of way” rule, which in most situations compels drivers to yield to the vehicle to their right.

Cause of property damage

According to Ólafur, the rule discrepancy has led to many accidents in Iceland. He points out one example: the roundabout on Vesturlandsvegur between Reykjavík and Mosfellsbær has been the site of over 70 collisions in just five years, most occurring when drivers are exiting the roundabout. Giving the outer lane the right of way would not only diminish misunderstandings between local and foreign drivers, but also make it easier for Icelanders to drive abroad.

Self-driving software struggles

The forthcoming arrival of self-driving cars is also a reason to reconsider the contrary rule, Ólafur asserts. A self-driving Tesla which he tested in Iceland struggled with the local roundabouts, and it is unlikely such vehicles’ software will take the exceptional rule into account.

While some Icelanders may argue it is more logical to grant the inner lane the right of way, Ólafur doesn’t think they’ll manage to convince other nations to take up the rule. “I think it’s much simpler to teach 300,000 people a new rule rather than transform the whole world. I would start with these 300,000.”

Icelandic Government to Establish Immigrant Counselling Centre

Alþingi Icelandic parliament

The Icelandic Parliament passed a parliamentary resolution yesterday to establish a counselling centre for immigrants, RÚV reports. A majority, or 49 MPs, voted for the resolution, while seven Centre Party MPs voted against it.

The resolution was put forth last fall by Left Green Movement MP Kolbeinn Óttarsson Proppé alongside seven of his fellow party members. It obliges the Minister of Social Affairs to establish an immigrant counselling centre, whose role will be to provide accessible information and advice to immigrants on services they can access, as well as their rights and responsibilities as residents of Iceland.

The minister will consult closely with the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities, as well as municipal authorities, the Icelandic Red Cross, and workers’ unions on the development and operation of the centre. Immigrants account for nearly 13% of Iceland’s population and nearly 20% of workers in the country.

Hvalfjörður Tunnel Closes Overnight June 5-7

Hvalfjörður tunnel on the Route One north of Reykjavík will close overnight between June 5 and 7. The tunnel will close from midnight to 7.00am for cleaning and other routine maintenance work.

Hvalfjörður tunnel lies on the Ring Road between Reykjavík and Borgarnes. The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration informs travellers to use Route 47 around Hvalfjörður fjord as a detour during the closure.

New Disease Diagnosed in Icelandic Horses

Icelandic horse

The first cases of acquired equine polyneuropathy (AEP) have been confirmed in Icelandic horses. The disease first appeared in Scandinavia around 25 years ago, but has only now been confirmed in Iceland. Despite extensive research, its cause is unknown.

Not contagious

AEP is not a contagious disease and there is no evidence that it is hereditary, according to a press release from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST). The disease is believed to be linked to hay, as the horses which have been diagnosed with the illness were all fed with the same hay from the same field. Not all horses who are the hay in question got sick, however, suggesting that there are other factors involved.

Affects young horses

Polyneuropathy is damage or disease affecting peripheral nerves in roughly the same areas on both sides of the body. The main symptoms of AEP are muscle weakness in the back of the body, causing the horses’ hind legs to collapse now and then onto their pasterns. Horses with the disease exhibit full consciousness, good appetite, and mostly normal behaviour.

AEP usually arises in horses between late winter and the month of May, and very few cases are reported outside of that time period. In Norway, Sweden, and Finland, it is common for there to be many cases at each farm where the disease is found, and diagnoses are usually bound to a specific region. AEP most often arises in young horses, though not foals. The majority of horses that show symptoms of AEP are cured with rest and new feed. However, according to statistics from Norway and Sweden, up to 30% of animals who contract the disease must be put down.

Only in Northwest Iceland

The first confirmed cases in Iceland were diagnosed at a large horse farm in Northwest Iceland. Detectable symptoms have been observed in 22 horses at the farm, all between the ages of two and seven. Of these horses, seven have been put down and one was found dead. There are possibly more young horses on the farm with mild symptoms.

AEP has not been found on any other farms in the country, and it can be assumed that the risk of discovering more cases this year is low, as most young horses are now grazing. There is a risk, however, that the disease will arise elsewhere in the future, as the conditions that cause it have now clearly appeared in Iceland.

MAST requests information

As the disease is new to the country, MAST requests notification of all cases where AEP is suspected or confirmed. Farmers needing further information can contact Sigríður Björnsdóttir at [email protected] or +354 893 0824.