War Of The Nerds: The Odd Battle Of The Roundabouts - The Reykjavik Grapevine

War Of The Nerds: The Odd Battle Of The Roundabouts

War Of The Nerds: The Odd Battle Of The Roundabouts

Published June 14, 2019

Valur Grettisson

Let’s just be honest about it: roundabouts are nightmarish and confusing structures. It’s like a saddening metaphor for the pointless circulation of life—if you lose focus, some idiot will ram into your side and possibly kill you.

The Icelandic way

But in Iceland, roundabouts are even more confusing. Icelanders have this odd rule, one that is in no way legalised—it’s more of a traditional mess—that the driver in the inner lane has the right-of-way to exit the roundabout. Yes, this is crazy, but it was not really a concern until early this decade, mostly because we have gone from 100,000 tourists up to 2 million annually in just ten years, and nobody bothers to inform tourists about this odd rule.

Ridiculous statistic

The consequences are quite devastating. From 2011 to 2015, 22% of those involved in accidents related to roundabouts were foreign tourists. And this number grows significantly  at roundabouts near tourist attractions.

“Who other than Icelanders would get into a heated debate about roundabouts?”

This has sparked an interesting debate in Iceland about whether we should stop entirely with this silly, special right-of-way rule and adapt to the rest of the world, or if we should just force the rest of the world to adapt to our eccentric way of life.   

Specialists have also pointed out that self-driving cars are right around the corner—literally—and this has been a problem for those cars as well. So, it seems, even the robots are confused.

No, you’re doing it wrong!

But Icelanders are very independent and stubborn people when it comes to defending their ways and traditions, so not everyone is happy about changing the roundabout rule. Some have stated that we should simply go back to driving on the left side of the road like in the 60s, so that this rule would make any sense at all. Or—and we love this—we could even educate the rest of the world about our unique solution and force them to adopt it. Either way, it’s a really nerdy war. Who other than Icelanders would get into a heated debate about roundabouts?    

For more War Of The Nerds, click here.

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