From Iceland — Speed Bumps For Your Safety

Speed Bumps For Your Safety

Published June 3, 2016

Speed Bumps For Your Safety
Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Photo by
Art Bicnick

I had never been carsick in my entire life. I’d roll my eyes when my sister asked for carsickness medication on our family road trips. I always felt she was overreacting—until I was in a car driving through Reykjavík’s city-centre. Before then, I had never been carsick, but I’d also never bobbed and heaved over so many speed bumps.

At first, I blamed my mother’s driving skills. It must be her that made me sick to my stomach. My sisters and I joke that she has always been a “confused driver.” But then it happened again, this time on the bus. I realised it had nothing to do with the ability to drive or not. It was these speed bumps placed every five metres, making driving downtown akin to life on the sea. Perhaps this was a city planning decision to help sailors and fishermen adjust to life back on land.

Or perhaps it’s something more sinister? Could there be a secret society of mechanics cashing in on the constant damage to brake pads and front-end suspensions? How often have you needed to get a wheel alignment? Or is yet another result of the tourism industry taking over, slowing down drivers so they can more easily spot the newest puffin store or gourmet burger-bistro, upscale, quirky, understatedly overdecorated gastropub? Pop a speed bump in front and let’s slap some sunglasses on a random animal carcass.

I am all for safety and if speed bumps prevented people from driving fast then I would just shut up, but in my experience some people just see it as a slight interruption of their 80 km per hour texting session. Other people just swerve and dart between the speed bumps like they were placed there to test the car’s handling or help the drivers relive a Mario Kart fantasy. If you’re driving fast and just brake to get past the speed bump, it’ll cause nausea more than anything else. I can’t imagine it’s any safer to be driving and puking.

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