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Iceland’s Roads Rate Low on Safety

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Iceland’s Roads Rate Low on Safety

road traffic golden circle

A stretch of the popular Golden Circle route. Photo: Ian Funk.

Only 0.1 percent of Icelandic roads rated in the top category for safety in a recent study carried out by EuroRAP, the European Road Assessment Program. RÚV reported first.

James Bradford, EuroRAP’s European Development Director, presented an appraisal of road safety in Iceland at a meeting in Reykjavík yesterday. The appraisal was carried out in collaboration with the Icelandic Automobile Association and assessed 4,200 kilometres (2,600 miles) of road in urban and rural areas around Iceland between 2012 and 2017. Roads were then rated using a five-star system, where five stars represent the safest possible rating.

According to the assessment, only 6.9 km of road, or 0.1 percent of the roads assessed, received a five-star rating. An additional 2.7 percent of roads received four stars, 22.4 percent received three, 34 percent received two stars and 40.9 percent received only one. Factors that may affect a road’s rating include steep shoulders, poles or signs too close to the road, lighting, speed limit, and wear. Roads rated with one star are concentrated in the West Fjords and East Fjords, though they appear in other areas of the country as well.

Bradford says many roads around Reykjavík and Keflavík are among the most dangerous. “Not that the construction of the road is poor rather that it doesn’t correspond to the danger and number of drivers and speed on these roads,” he remarked.

“What surprised me most was how many roads are not divided. Two-way traffic is not separated by a crash barrier or traffic island. And the traffic is both heavy and at high speed,” stated Bradford, adding that roads where traffic speeds exceed 80km/h should be separated wherever possible.

Minister of Transport Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, who formally opened yesterday’s meeting, says it is clear the road network requires more investment than it has been receiving. “We have put much too little toward development and maintenance and improvement. And there is simply more money needed there and I think everyone more or less agrees on that. We have not prioritized transport for a very long time and now the time has come.”

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