Men are significantly more likely to engage in risky behaviour while driving and have been at fault in 14 of 15 serious traffic accidents that took place in Iceland last year. The data comes from the Icelandic Transport Authority’s annual accident report, which also shows a record high number of tourist deaths in driving-related accidents in 2018. RÚV reported first.
Dramatic gender divide in 2018 accidents
According to Gunnar Geir Gunnarsson, the Transport Authority’s Head of Safety and Promotion division, the gender divide in traffic accidents is not usually so dramatic. As a rule, men make up two-thirds of drivers, and there’s usually a similar proportion of men involved in minor traffic accidents and incidents.
“But when we examine serious accidents, then we can see that men are the drivers in the vast majority of them,” explained Gunnar. “Generally, there’s either risky behavior or some kind of recklessness that they haven’t thought all the way through. Especially with fatal accidents, there is often drunk driving, speeding. Drug use in some instances,” he concluded.
Young victims, private vehicles
There were 15 fatal traffic accidents in Iceland in 2018, which led to 18 total deaths. Of these, 12 victims were men and six were women or girls. Eleven of the victims were 36 years old or younger. Nine of the victims were Icelanders, six were foreign tourists, and three were foreign nationals living in Iceland. One fatality was related to a drunk driving incident. Twelve of the victims were driving in passenger cars, four in delivery trucks, one on a tour bus, and one on an ATV.
Young drivers are often involved in traffic accidents, mostly due to their inexperience, Gunnar explained. There has been the most dramatic increase in traffic accidents among this demographic of late. Fatal traffic accidents have also been on the rise among tourists, which Gunnar credits, at least in part, to unfamiliar driving conditions in Iceland.
“…Six people died in traffic incidents last year—there have never been more in a single year. But the trouble they get into is more about a lack of knowledge about Icelandic conditions. It’s not many of them who are under the influence of alcohol, rather that they drive too fast on icy or gravel roads—something like that.”
Fewer accidents in 2019
While driving-related deaths spiked in 2018, the first three months of 2019 showed no fatal traffic accidents at all in the country. Experts say better driver education and higher rates of seatbelt use are among the factors working together to reduce accident mortality in Iceland.