How do I pay my speeding ticket in Iceland?

South Coast driving, speeding ticket

It’s a beautiful summer day, and you’re travelling around Iceland on the ring road—life is good! Until your mind slowly starts wandering away, inspired by the wild landscapes. Suddenly, your foot gets a bit heavy on the gas pedal, and it’s too late—you’ve already been caught by a speeding camera. Many visitors and residents have been through this exact scenario.

But what should you do now that you’ve been caught speeding in Iceland? 

Hefty fines for speeding

When driving in Iceland, it is important to keep track of the varying speed limits. Generally, the speed limit on the ring road and other “highways” is 90 km/h (55 mph); on gravel roads 80 km/h (50 mph); and in populated areas, it is 50 km/h (31 mph). The limits can always vary depending on the road, season and sharp turns. Therefore, it is crucial to keep track of signage while you are driving to avoid unnecessary fines.

There are stationary speeding cameras all around the country, which are usually indicated by signage beforehand. Nevertheless, sometimes there are even hidden cameras or even police cars pulled over on the side of the road to catch naughty speeders! Read more about driving in Iceland here.

The latest trend in Iceland is automated monitoring of drivers’ average speed. In the tunnel Hvalfjarðargang, on the way from Reykjavík to Borgarnes, you can find such a system, which basically takes a photo of you when you enter the tunnel and calculates when you should come out again. If you speed and arrive earlier than calculated, you will be fined.

The fines associated with speeding can be quite hefty in Iceland. Check out this calculator by the Icelandic police, to know the exact fees. Also, note that additional fines can be imposed if you are driving a bus, other heavy vehicles over 3.5t or when towing a trailer.

Here are a few examples of fines:

  • Driving 41km/h or faster over the allowed top speed (80-90 km/hour)
    • ISK 130,000 – 150,000 (€ 864-1,000 / $ 930-1,070)
  • Driving 36km/h or faster over the allowed top speed (50-60 km/hour)
    • ISK 65,000 – 80,000 (€ 432-530 / $ 465-572)
  • Driving 26km/h or faster over the allowed top speed (30-35 km/hour)
    • ISK 40,000  (€ 266 / $ 286)

How to pay the fine

If you were speeding in a rental car, the rental company will forward your personal information upon request to the police (as required by law). Rental companies often charge an extra service fee for this procedure. If you are living in Iceland, you will be contacted directly by the police. 

The Icelandic police will then email you a speeding ticket with different payment options. You can either pay via direct bank transfer to the specified account number, online via the official traffic management website or if you are still in Iceland, at local post offices.

If you pay within a certain time period, you can expect to decrease the total amount by 25%. The same goes if you are caught by police officers on the road – if you pay the ticket on the spot, you can knock down the fine by 25%. Usually, police officers have a card reader with them on patrol, so you can just pay the fine with your credit card.

Driving The Ring Road in Three Days

Iceland’s famous Þjóðvegur 1 highway, or the Ring Road, is a 1322 km long road that circles the country. Technically it can be covered from start to finish in less than 24 hours but rushing the road trip would defeat the purpose of experiencing the beautiful nature and eccentric small towns that Iceland has to offer. The optimal way to travel the Ring Road is in approximately seven days with plenty of pit stops, but it’s also entirely possible to have an enjoyable trip in much less than that. For those who have limited time to travel, here’s a guide to a three day trip around Iceland.

Where to Begin?

At the start of the trip, travellers have two options, driving north or south but for the purpose of this article, the northern route is chosen. Heading north takes travellers through the Hvalfjarðargöng tunnel towards Borgarnes which is a popular first quick stop for gathering snacks or having lunch, but for a little less crowded option we recommend Baulan, a small gas station twenty minutes past Borgarnes. Baulan is perfect for a coffee break and a hot dog before getting back on the road. About 40 minutes from Baulan marks the beginning of the drive through Holtavörðuheiði, a long stretch of road that ascends through barren hillsides. During the summer, Holtavörðuheiði poses no difficulty for drivers but during winter the road can get quite icy and it’s worth staying up to date on road conditions when travelling in the winter months. Coming back down from the hills, travellers are greeted by Staðarskáli, a good sized gas station and restaurant that was originally opened in 1960 and then reconstructed in 2008 under the N1 chain of gas stations. Due to its location right between Reykjavík and the North part of Iceland, it has been one of the most popular rest stops on the Ring Road. Although some of the old time charm was replaced by a more modern look by N1, it’s still a classic stop to restock on drinks and road snacks. Before getting to Akureyri, the road crosses Blönduós, a decent sized town named after the Blanda river that rushes through the area. Blönduós has a number of restaurants and gas stations to drop in, but for people who crave an old fashioned burger joint there is the North West restaurant in Víðigerði, some 39 km from Blönduós.

Photo: Golli. A collection of waterfalls in Borgarfjörður

After that the Ring Road heads into Skagafjörður, a large region known for its dramatic history during the Sturlunga Era and for its rich horsebreeding culture. The last proper stop before Akureyri is Varmahlíð in Skagafjörður, a tiny community that still manages a hotel and a swimming pool along with a restaurant and gas station. From Varmahlíð it’s about an hour drive to Akureyri with no other options for pit stops through the sometimes treacherous Öxnadalsheiði. 

Akureyri, Capital of North Iceland

Akureyri, the second biggest town in Iceland, is nestled at the roots of Hlíðarfjall mountain, a popular skiing area during winter time. It has a more “city feel” than the other smaller towns that are scattered around the country, and is an ideal place to stop for the first night of the trip. Akureyri offers numerous hotels, guesthouses and camping areas along with a diverse restaurant scene and a huge swimming pool with a funky waterslide. The climate in Akureyri is often a lot calmer than in Reykjavík and during summer it’s more likely than not to catch beautiful, sunny days there while Reykjavík has more unpredictable weather. There is no shortage of activities available in Akureyri and it is sure to leave an impression on any traveller passing through. In 2022, a new geothermal bath spot opened right outside Akureyri called Skógarböðin, or Forest Lagoon, a beautifully designed, modern take on the natural bath. It’s a great spot to unwind after the long drive and enjoy the surrounding nature. For breakfast in Akureyri there are a few options, but a great little café called Kaffi Ilmur is a great choice. Kaffi Ilmur serves breakfast all day long and has amazing Dutch specialty pancakes that should not be missed.

Photo: Golli. Akureyri is the second largest town in Iceland

Experiencing East-Iceland

Heading out east from Akureyri, the next stop should be Egilsstaðir, a small town with a big personality and a great natural bath called Vök, which is located on top of Urriðavatn lake. Visitors can soak in the hot pools and then take a dip in the lake to cool off. East-Iceland has a lot to offer and it’s the only part of the country where wild reindeer roam free. Because of the short trip and long drives between destinations, it might not be possible to go on many excursions, but travellers should try to squeeze in a reindeer safari to see these adorable animals in their natural habitat. On the South-Eastern edge of Iceland, close to Vatnajökull glacer is Jökulsárlón, a glacier lake that is a must see on the Ring Road trip. The lake runs directly from Vatnajökull and out to the ocean and carries with it beautiful icebergs from the glacier in all different colors of blue. Close by is the Diamond Beach where pieces of the icebergs have broken off and collected on the shore. It’s a stunning display of the ever changing elements of Icelandic nature.

Photo: Berglind. The Glacier Lagoon in East-Iceland

 For the second night on the trip, Höfn í Hornafirði is a great spot, a small coastal town on the  South-East tip, or travellers can duck into Hotel Jökulsárlón, a cozy hotel close to the glacier lake. About 20 minutes before entering Höfn there are the Vestrahorn mountains, a picturesque range of ragged mountains that seem to rise up from the black, sandy beach. 

The Scenic South Coast

On the third day, driving from Höfn, begins the home stretch, a beautiful, scenic drive along the southern part of Iceland. This part of the country doesn’t have the many hills and valleys of the western and northern parts and so the drive is smooth and peaceful. The southern route also has some of the most popular nature highlights of Iceland, and as travellers get closer to Reykjavík, there are numerous spots to stop and enjoy the views. Three hours from Höfn is Vík í Mýrdal, another small seaside town that is surrounded by dramatic mountain formations. There are a number of food options in Vík, including a craft brewery pub called Smiðjan Brewery that offers a good selection of local specialty beers. Thirty minutes from Vík is the famed Skógafoss, an iconic waterfall that can be seen right from the highway. Continuing west is another, smaller waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, where visitors have a chance to walk up close and get behind the gushing water. Close by Seljalandsfoss is Seljavallalaug, a beautiful natural bath, hidden from the views of the Ring Road. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the pool but the soak is worth every minute.

Photo: Golli. Seljalandsfoss on the South Coast

Getting back on the road from Seljavallalaug, travellers have the option of taking a small detour to see Gullfoss waterfall and Strokkur geysir. As part of the Golden Cirlce, these spots are a popular attraction for tour groups, but it’s easy and fun to get around there on your own. From the Golden Circle it’s a short one hour drive back to Reykjavík where it all started. A short trip like this around Iceland is only able to give a small preview of all the possible things to see and do around the country, but it is a great way to get familiar with driving on the roads and to hopefully get hyped for a longer return trip in the future.

Hazardous Road Conditions in the North

winter tires reykjavík

Roads across Iceland are out of commission today due to harsh winter weather. Conditions are especially bad in the north and Holtavörðuheiði, a part of the Ring Road between the capital area and Akureyri, has been closed, RÚV reports.

Buses postponed or cancelled

Bus trips operated by Strætó have been postponed or cancelled this morning. Bus 57 at 10:15 from Akureyri to Reykjavík was cancelled. The bus travelling in the opposite direction at 9:00, from Mjódd in Reykjavík going north, only made it to Borgarnes.

Routes 78 and 79, between Siglufjörður and Akureyri, and Húsavík and Akureyri, respectively, have been postponed for an indefinite period. Route 59 between Borgarnes and Hólmavík has also been postponed.

Many roads out of commission

In the northeast, the road over Möðrudalsöræfi has been closed and Öxnadalsheiði road is out of commission as well. According to the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, blinding snowfall and difficult driving conditions are to be expected in many areas, especially Vatnsskarð and Þverárfjall.

The snowfall is expected to decrease tonight. However, driving conditions in Skagafjörður will get worse today and roads could be closed later on. Slippery surfaces, poor visibility and hail can be expected on roads in the area.

Hellisheiði Closed Temporarily Today Due to Roadwork

Route 1 Iceland

A section of Iceland’s Ring Road over the Hellisheiði mountain pass will be closed today for roadwork. Traffic will be rerouted via Þrengslavegur and Þorlákshafnarvegur during the closure.

Closed between 9 AM and 2 PM

A portion of Iceland´s Ring Road (Route 1) leading over the Hellisheiði mountain pass — connecting the capital area to the South Coast — will be temporarily closed today due to roadwork.

The road will be closed eastbound, towards Hveragerði, between 9 AM and 12 noon. From 10 AM to 2 PM, the road will be closed westbound, towards Reykjavík. Traffic will be redirected via Þrengslavegur and Þorlákshafnarvegur road (see below image of the Þrengslavegur reroute).

Ring Road
Þrengslavegur reroute (Google Maps)

 

 

Record Ring Road Traffic

The latest numbers from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration show that July 2023 was a record-breaking month. According to IRCA, never before has there been more traffic on Route 1 in a single month.

July 2023 proved to be about seven per cent higher than July 2022. Year-on-year increases can be seen across the board, with 16 key figures being measured by IRCA. On average, nearly 125 thousand vehicles were recorded across Route 1 daily.

vegagerðin route 1
Daily average combined traffic. IRCA.

The largest increase was noted in and around the capital area. IRCA speculates that the increase is likely due to comparatively lower figures in the area compared to the season last year.

However, traffic in North and East Iceland decreased, compared to the same month last year, by 1.9% and 4.5% respectively.

 

ring road iceland
Sum of daily average traffic, in thousands. IRCA.

 

Total traffic has increased on all weekdays, with the most significant increase on Mondays, around 12.1%, and the least on Sundays, around 5.1%.

Friday was shown to be the busiest day, and Sunday the least.

IRCA expects the current increase to hold for the remainder of 2023. If this forecast holds, this would set a new annual traffic record on Route 1.

 

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Transport Plan: Single-Lane Bridges to Be Eliminated

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson

At a press conference yesterday, the Minister of Infrastructure unveiled his new transport plan. The plan aims to eliminate single-lane bridges on the Ring Road within 15 years and includes plans to build a new Hvalfjörður tunnel, alongside nine other tunnels. More than ISK 900 billion ($6.5 billion / €6.1 billion) will be invested over the next fifteen years, RÚV reports.

New tunnels and the elimination of single-lane bridges

At a press conference held yesterday at the Nordica Hotel in Reykjavík, Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson unveiled the ministry’s transport plan for the years 2024 to 2038.

The plan includes a budget of over ISK 900 billion ($6.5 billion / €6.1 billion) for transport projects in the next fifteen years, with approximately ISK 260 billion ($1.9 billion / €1.7 billion) allocated for the next five years. Notable projects include the construction of a second Hvalfjörður tunnel (a road tunnel under the Hvalfjörður fjord in Iceland and a part of the Ring Road) and a tunnel under the Öxnadalsheiði mountain pass. Additionally, the plan aims to eliminate single-lane bridges on the Ring Road within fifteen years.

The transport plan also includes significant road projects such as doubling the Reykjanesbraut road – connecting Reykjavík to Keflavík International Airport – and widening the Suðurlandsvegur and Kjalarnesvegur roads with separated driving lanes. Around 80 kilometres of main roads will also be widened.

There are ten tunnels in the plan:

Fjarðarheiðar tunnel
Siglufjörður tunnel
A second Hvalfjörður tunnel
Tunnel between Ólafsfjörður and Dalvík
Tunnel between Ísafjörður and Súðavík
Broadening of the Breiðdals segment of the Vestfjords tunnel
Seyðisfjörður and Mjóifjörður tunnel
Miklidalur and Hálfdán
Klettháls
Öxnadalsheiði
(Four other tunnels are also under consideration: Reynisfjall, Lónsheiði, Hellisheiði eystri, Berufjarðar and Breiðdalsheiði tunnels.)

An alternate airport fee will also be introduced and a new terminal will be built at Reykjavík Airport. The transport agreement in the capital area will also be updated with funding for the preparation of Sundabraut continuing to be guaranteed.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2026 and be completed in 2031.

Increasing road safety

Sigurður Ingi was quoted in a press release on the government’s website stating that, above all, the focus of the transport plan was increased road safety:

“When I took over as Minister of Transport almost six years ago, the development of transport infrastructure was launched with subsidies towards roads, ports, and airports throughout the country. For the next several years, we were able to invest more in transport infrastructure annually than had previously been done.

Above all, our guiding light, and biggest project, is increasing safety on the roads. As in previous transport plans, the emphasis is on reducing the number of single-lane bridges and crossroads, shortening distances between places and, most importantly, separating opposing lanes on the busiest roads to and from the capital area. We have worked according to a clear safety plan for traffic, shipping, and aviation in cooperation with regulatory bodies and the business world.

Transport is the lifeblood of society and supports a strong economy throughout the country and provides a lot of strength to the settlements. The projects are diverse and range from protective pavement (i.e. bundið slitlag) on connecting roads to ambitious collaborative projects such as Ölfusárbrú and Sundabraut.”

Road Administration Launches New Website for Travellers

www.umferdin.is

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration launched a new website yesterday. The new website will offer more detailed information on road and weather conditions.

More advanced, more accessible, more detailed

Yesterday morning, the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA) held a meeting to introduce its new website: www.umferdin.is.

According to a press release from IRCA, this new website – which will replace the previous road-conditions map on the administration’s site (www.road.is) – is “more advanced, more accessible (especially on smart devices), and will offer greater opportunities for development going forward.” The map is also zoomable, and the design of the website has been modernised.

Read More: When and why did Icelanders start driving on the right side of the road?

According to IRCA, www.umferdin.is will offer more detailed information on driving and road conditions. This information is recorded by the Road Administration’s staff and contractors around the country. Between October and April 30, information on the website is updated every day from 7 AM to 10 PM. Between May 1 to September 30, information on the website is updated every day from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Weather and traffic data that appear on the site are gathered by IRCA’s weather stations and other measuring devices around the national road network, as well as by a number of the Icelandic MET Office’s weather stations. The base map’s overlays originate from an open database at Landmælingar Íslands.

When and why did Iceland change to driving on the right?

Kjölur highland road

As you might know, the British occupied Iceland during the Second World War in order to secure Allied shipping lanes. While they were here, they built the Reykjavík Airport, Nissen huts, and parts of the road system.

However, something many people might not know is that Icelanders drove on the left side even before the Brits came. Even back then, this was something of an exception. Iceland’s former colonizer, Denmark, for instance, also drove on the right. The arrival of the British just cemented the habit, and it wasn’t until 1968 that Icelanders made the switch (and they might also have been influenced by Sweden, who made the switch in 1967).

Iceland was expanding its road system significantly during this time (the ring road was “only” completed in 1974), and the thinking was that before Icelanders spend all of the time and money building up their road system to meet modern standards, then any changes should be made before, not after, the project.

So, in anticipation of the last push to build the ring road, Icelanders made the switch in 1968.

Although the switch did officially happen on the appointed day, Icelanders had plenty of time to prepare. For quite some time before the big change, public service announcements instructed Icelanders about the new driving patterns. Some were also anxious at driving on the right at first, so the roads were actually rather empty in the first days of the switch, allowing everyone a little more time to get adjusted.

Route One Closed Between Reykjavík and South Iceland

winter weather iceland

Route One, or the ring road, is closed over Hellisheiði, between Reykjavík and South Iceland. Dozens of cars are stopped on the road, waiting for it to reopen. An orange weather alert has been issued for this afternoon in most of the Westfjords and a yellow weather alert in North Iceland. Travellers face icy and snowy conditions around the country.

Iceland has been hit by extreme weather in recent days, causing flooding and wind damage, as well as stranding travellers around the country. Ski parks Bláfjöll and Skálafell, near Reykjavík, will both be closed at least until this weekend as crews work to repair power lines destroyed in the storm.

Travellers are encouraged to monitor weather and road conditions on road.is.

Record Traffic on Ring Road in July

Traffic in Iceland’s capital area decreased by more than 3% last month while traffic on the Ring Road increased by around 6% and has never been heavier in any July on record. This data from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration indicates that an unusually high number of capital area residents travelled to the countryside last month. July traffic in the capital area has not been lighter since 2016.

Despite lower numbers of foreign tourists as compared to pre-pandemic figures, a record amount of traffic was recorded on Iceland’s Ring Road in July. Traffic was 2.3% higher in July 2021 than in July 2019, when the previous record for that month was set. The biggest increase was recorded in East Iceland, where counters recorded a 23% rise in vehicle numbers.

Traffic has increased 6.4% in the first half of 2021 as compared to the same period in 2020. It is, however, still 3% lighter than it was during the same period in 2019. Looking at data for the month of July 2021 alone, there was less traffic on all days of the week as compared to July 2020, except on Fridays, which showed a 1.4% increase in traffic. Fridays show the heaviest traffic while Sundays show the lightest.

The Road and Coastal Administration projects an 8.5% increase in traffic by the end of the year as compared to 2020. If that figure proves correct, traffic will still be 2.5% lighter than in 2019.