Central Highlands Patrol The Central Highlands are patrolled by ICE-SAR rapid response teams, as well as Police. Photo/Fréttablaðið
Six French travelers will be charged with criminal off-road driving for causing serious and permanent damage in the Central Highlands. On Sunday afternoon the six travelers drove their three small SUVs over delicate vegetation and wetlands, leaving deep tracks. According to Police in East Iceland it will take considerable effort to repair, while it will take the vegetation decades to recover. Some of the damage caused by the people cannot be repaired and is permanent.
UPDATE: Group of French travelers fined 300,000 ISK for their destructive off-road driving
The group will give a statement to the Police in East Iceland today. They are expected to pay be fined as much as 500,000 ISK (4,600 USD/4,000 EUR). This summer The Police in South Iceland has charged ten groups of travelers for criminal off-road driving. A month ago a second group of French "adventurers" had to request Police assistance after getting their cars stuck in wetlands while ploughing a trail of destruction off-road. Only a fraction of off-road offenses lead to criminal charges.
Read more: French off-roaders publish apology peppered with wild accusations, ask to be allowed to "continue their travel in peace"
According to the National Broadcasting Service the French travelers were driving rental cars, three SUVs along the highland track Austurleið (F910) when they arrived at the crossing over Þríhyrningsá river. The river crossing was blocked, as previous travelers who had attempted to cross the river had gotten their car stuck in the middle of the stream.
Read more: Ask the expert: How to cross those unbridged rivers in the Central Highlands?
Rather than turn around and revise their travel plans, or wait for the other car to be towed out of the river, the group decided to go searching for a second crossing over the river, driving off-road alongside the river. The group drove 200 meters (660 ft), leaving deep tracks in the ground. "Part of the tracks and the damage is permanent and cannot be repaired," a spokesman for the Police in East Iceland told the local news site Vísir.
The Central Highland Police Patrol found the travelers, taking down their names and other information, and told them to show up at the Police station in Egilsstaðir town in East Iceland today.
A spokesman for the Police in East Iceland told Vísir that officers have not noticed an increase in the cases of off-road driving this year. Only a fraction of reports result in charges being filed. He said that most of the cases involve foreign travelers, but added that locals have also been caught driving off-road. "I wouldn't think of absolving Icelanders from responsibility for this problem," he told Vísir.