The Number One Tip for Staying Safe When Driving in Iceland? Skip to content

The Number One Tip for Staying Safe When Driving in Iceland?

A car driving in the North Icelandic countryside.
Photo: Golli. A car driving in the North Icelandic countryside.

Travelling around Iceland is a magical experience unto itself, so long as it is done safely. Vehicle safety starts in one place – buckling up! Let’s learn more about the number one tip for staying safe when driving in Iceland.  

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The following is promotional content in partnership with Samagöngusdtofa – The Office of Transportation.

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Majestic farmlands merge with vast table-top mountains, their slopes trickling fresh water in rocky tiers. Glaciers the size of small countries twinkle mysteriously on the horizon, their icy caves and winding hiking trails luring adventure-seekers from far and wide. 

Surrounding it all, long stretches of black sand coast, dotted sparsely with small, rustic communities that typically lie on Route 01 – Iceland’s famous Ring Road.

It’s enough to make anyone want to pack a knapsack and take to the road. Indeed, perhaps you are well underway into planning your own adventure in Iceland…

As you plan your journey and dream of the breath-taking sights you’ll see, there’s one simple yet crucial piece of advice to keep in mind: safety first. 

When you board your tour coach or public bus, take a moment to notice a short but vital phrase displayed inside the vehicle:
 

“Spennum Beltin”

  

Don’t worry if you don’t understand the words immediately. 

But while there’s no expectation to learn Icelandic for your trip, this particular phrase is worthy of translating.

What Does Spennum Beltin Mean?

A driver wearing their seatbelt
Photo: PickPik.

Simply put, it means “Fasten seat belts.” 

Reminders such as these are an important part of the ongoing safety campaign promoted by Samagöngusdtofa, or to English-speakers, the Office of Transportation. 

This government body is dedicated to ensuring all travellers have a safe and enjoyable journey through Iceland.

Photo: Golli. The epic landscape of Dyrhólaey peninsula

Such a small, quick action makes an enormous difference regarding your safety on the road. 

Despite its simplicity, how often have you or someone you know skipped this step? 

The answer might surprise you. And it should definitely alarm you.

But recommendations to fasten your seat belt are not merely good advice. 

As you would expect, fastening your seat belt is the law in Iceland. Rule-breakers can expect hefty fines should they be caught skirting the regulations. 

Form A Lifesaving Habit

Photo: Pxhere. CC.

For anyone with a driver’s licence, fastening your seat belt should be automatic. 

A reflex as natural as turning the key in the ignition, readying your mirrors, or checking your fuel.  

It’s a lifesaver, proven to prevent countless tragedies since its introduction. 

Unique Challenges on Iceland’s Roads

winter tires reykjavík
Photo: Golli. Driving in Iceland's winter

Iceland’s roads are beautiful but challenging. Weather can change rapidly, and conditions can be unpredictable. 

In the winter time, roads are regularly covered with snow and ice. Pair that with fog so thick that it’s impossible to see five-feet ahead of you, and you might start to get a picture of how treacherous travel in Iceland can sometimes be.

Summer drivers have it easier, certainly, but that’s not to say the roads are absent of threats.

Not only are Iceland’s roads busier between June and September, but the omnipresent Midnight Sun can often create such a glare as to make visibility near impossible. 

The hazards that we’ve mentioned are largely dependent on the time of year and type of journey you will be making. Regardless of these factors, that first, crucial step of fastening a seat belt remains mandatory. 

Even if you’re a cautious driver, make sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up before you start your journey.

Beyond Seat Belts: Stay Prepared

rain iceland traffic
Photo: Art Bicnick

While the news might highlight dramatic events like eruptions or avalanches, the reality is that traffic accidents pose a more significant risk.

Remember that old consolation; “You’re far more likely to be injured on your way to the airport than on your flight?” 

It’s not stated merely to downplay the dangers of air travel. Those words should also be a serious reminder that driving – something many of us take entirely for granted – is actually a risky action in itself. 

traffic safety iceland
Photo: Art Bicnick

For that reason alone, you would hope that most people have enough self-preservation to take all precautions before hitting the road. And, as we’ve learned, that all begins with one simple manoeuvre:

Spennum Beltin – Fasten your seat belt. 

As mentioned, ensuring everyone fastens their seat belt is the first step toward a safe and enjoyable trip in Iceland.

Ready to Explore Safely?

South Coast driving, speeding ticket
Photo: Golli. Driving on the South Coast

Given the breath-taking scenery, exciting tour activities, and fascinating local culture, it is little wonder that Iceland tops so many people’s bucket lists.

So, before embarking on your adventure around the land of ice and fire, remember that one simple phrase: Spennum Beltin. 

It might just save your life.

For more tips on staying safe while exploring the island, visit Samagöngusdtofa – The Office of Transportation.

Stay safe and enjoy the journey!

A mountain road in the Westfjords.
Photo: Golli. A mountain road in the Westfjords.

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