Iceland Mag

8 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Accidents, Search and Rescue

Number of foreign travelers involved in road accidents has doubled since 2011

By Staff

  • Kirkjubæjarklaustur accident On the third day of Christmas 2017 a serious accident west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur left two Chinese travelers dead. Photo/Vilhelm

A total of 234 foreign travelers were injured in traffic accidents in Iceland in 2017, and five were killed. This is more than double the number in 2011. A cause for special concern is that serious accidents, including head-on collisions, appear to have become more frequent. Two serious head-on collisions in recent days have caused alarm.

Two head-on collisions in less than a week
Three foreign travelers, one Taiwanese and two Americans, are still in critical condition at the National University Hospital after two cars coming from opposite directions crashed into one another on the Ring Road on the outskirts of Kirkjubæjarklaustur village on Sunday. Police have been unable to determine why the Taiwanese traveler was driving on the wrong side of the road, or whether he had only momentarily swerved into the wrong lane. 

Read more: Serious traffic accident caused Ring Road in S Iceland to be closed for five hours on Sunday

Less than a week ago a second tragic accident took place on the Golden Circle, between Þingvellir National Park and Laugavatn village. Two young Dutch travelers were killed when a camper van they were driving crashed into a dump truck coming from the opposite direction. The young people were for some reason not driving in the right lane.

Read more: Fatal accident on Golden Circle: Victims were a Dutch couple in early 20s

Road conditions were ideal in both cases, no ice or snow on the road, the road was dry and visibility good. 

As tourism grows, more travelers are injured
The number of foreign travelers who are injured or die in traffic accidents in Iceland has increased dramatically as the numbers of foreign visitors visit Iceland increases. Fortunately, however, the increase has been smaller than the increase in the numbers of foreign visitors. Fifteen years ago, in 2003, when only 309,000 foreign travelers visited Iceland 3 foreign travelers died in traffic accidents in Iceland, and 88 were injured. Last year 2.2 million foreign visitors visited, a seven fold increase. The number of travelers injured or killed in traffic accidents only tripled.

The number of people, locals as well as foreign visitors, killed in traffic accidents in Iceland has fluctuated greatly in recent years. In 2014 only four people were killed in traffic accidents, the lowest number since 1992. The highest number of fatal road accidents was recorded in 2000 when 32 people were killed in traffic accidents, and 2006 when 31 people suffered fatal traffic accidents. 

Last year 16 people died in traffic accidents. Five people have already died this year.

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