The Rescue Squad is getting a little tired of saving tourists from themselves, as they drive on roads that are clearly marked as impassable.
RÚV reports that police in Borgarnes received two calls last Thursday about tourists who had gotten stuck on Uxahryggjavegur. On the first occasion, the tourists in question were driving a Toyota Yaris and got stuck in the snow, necessitating assistance from the Rescue Squad. On the second occasion, which occurred just a few hours later, tourists driving a Renault Kangoo got stuck on the same road, but residents of nearby Skorradal got them unstuck.
Apart from both vehicles being entirely inappropriate for heavy winter driving, Uxahryggjavegur is marked by signs at both ends, in Icelandic and English, that the road is impassable. This apparently did not deter the tourists who invariably got stuck and needed to be helped. This, and incidents like it, cause no small amount of frustration for Rescue Squad workers.
Þór Þorsteinsson, the chairperson of the Rescue Squad Ok, told reporters that they have been called out eight times in the past week alone to help tourists who got their tiny rental cars stuck in the snow.
“It seems to be obviously very difficult to get information to tourists,” he told reporters. “They often wade out into the most unbelievable nonsense, sometimes with small children with them. I asked the Icelandic Road Administration this morning to close Uxahryggjavegur with a chain, but that is understandably not possible, due to the danger of causing an accident.”
Þór says that the calls to rescue tourists from the snow have increased alongside tourism.
“It is irresponsible to send tourists out into the countryside in a Yaris,” he said. “Especially as, more often than not, they have no idea where in the country they are.”