Traffic In Iceland
“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.” Dan Rather
The Icelandic people say that the increase in tourism has changed the traffic situation in Iceland. Twenty years ago scarcely anyone living outside the city owned a car but now it is different. The roads are crowded.
The tourists make it more and more dangerous to drive. It seems to Icelanders that anyone can rent a car in Iceland. The tourist short stop in the road for a photo op is a particularly common accident.
As an American from a busy city, the situation looks quite different. I wasn’t driving but there were empty roads as far as the eye could see. It seemed like you could just sit back and enjoy the landscape.
Every now and then you will come to a point in the road where you realize, that the only reason why there are so few people in Iceland killed by car accidents is that there is so little traffic. Some of those roads look like they would be treacherous in winter.
The trickiest part of driving seems to be the tunnels. When driving in, you feel like you are entering a huge cave built into the rock. They can be as long as six miles. I am claustrophobic and I just had to put my faith in Rocky our driver and in the hope that it did not end somewhere in the middle of the mountain. One of them felt like it would never end. It is quite possible that while you are in a tunnel, it suddenly narrows into one lane with periodic widening bays. Cars coming in the opposite direction pull over and wait for you. Apparently our direction had the right of way. Luckily we did not meet a truck.
I think the biggest road problem in Iceland are the sheep. It is far more common to be cut in front of by a group of sheep than by other drivers.
There are actually way more sheep than drivers on Icelandic roads.