Icelandic Stop Sign Instead Of Traffic Lights - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Stop Sign Instead Of Traffic Lights

Published June 2, 2016

Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Photos by
Sigurður Ægisson -

In the north of Iceland, the traffic lights that used to warn drivers if they could go through a tunnel or had to wait have been replaced by a bilingual stop sign.

RÚV reports that the tunnel heading out of Ólafsfjörður, Múlagangan, has changed its traffic lights. There is no way to see oncoming cars as you enter the tunnel, so the traffic lights used to indicate whether or not it was safe to drive in.

These lights have now been replaced be a new sign. The first version of this sign was in Icelandic, reading “Varúð. Bíll á móti” (“Caution. Oncoming cars”). Sigurður Ægisson, the priest of Siglufjörður, noticed that foreign tourists might not understand this sign, adding that this is how accidents can happen.

The sign was subsequently changed to “Stop. Bíll á móti”, striking a half-English, half-Icelandic compromise.

Another complaint Sigurður had concerned the colour of the sign. The previous one was yellow, which is not necessarily the colour warning signs use in Iceland, so the sign’s colour was changed to red.

The Road Administration remarked that they swapped the traffic lights for the sign to make it more clear for drivers why they need to stop. However, they admit that these new signs are an improvement over the previous ones, at least in terms of foreigners being able to read them.

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