Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Police constantly assisting travellers stuck on impassable roads which they thought were shortcuts

By Staff

  • Not much of a shortcut if you get stuck People not familiar with Icelandic conditions and not driving a 4x4 should stay away from F-roads under all circumstances, not just during winter. During the winter conditions on the main ring-road can even get difficult. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson.

Due to the large volume of calls from travellers requesting assistance after getting stuck on impassable or poorly passable roads, police in West Iceland have stopped requesting the assistance of volunteer Search and Rescue units, instead notifying private companies who charge for such assistance. This is done so as to preserve the energy and resources of the SAR teams for genuine emergencies.

2-3 calls every week
According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV Police in West Iceland receive two to three calls each week from travellers who are stuck on roads where they should not have been driving in the first place.

Read more: Photos: Travellers in a compact car get stuck on mountain route 66 only suitable for trucks

Theodór Þórðarson Chief Superintendent with the West Iceland police tells RÚV that people are frequently driving small compact cars or 2 wheel drive compact SUVs onto mountain roads only suitable for 4x4s or even specially equipped mountain trucks. The reason, he tells RÚV, frequently seems to be that people are taking the shortest route between two places, thinking these roads are shortcuts. In some cases people even drive past signs which clearly state the road in question is closed and impassable to all cars.

People driving small compact cars ignore road signs, get stuck on mountain roads
The problems which can arise from following questionable GPS instructions have been in the news in the past few days after an American traveller drove for to a North Iceland fishing village searching for a downtown Reykjavík hotel. Theodór tells RÚV that in some cases travellers seem to be following directions of GPS equipment which simply charts the shortest distance between two places. As a consequence people driving small compact cars are repeatedly getting stuck on the mountain road Útnesvegur by Snæfellsjökull glacier on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, and Kaldidalur mountain road by Langjökull glacier.

Read more: Entered an extra "r" in his GPS location, ended up in North Iceland instead of a downtown Reykjavík hotel

Responding to these calls, he tells RÚV, has been placing excessive strain on both the police and Search and Rescue units which have historically come to the help of stranded travellers. As a consequence the police has begun instructing people to contact private towing companies which have specialized in mountain rescue of this kind for a fee. He adds that they first make sure that there is no immediate danger to the travellers. If anyone is hurt or in danger SAR teams are always sent to the scene.

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