RÚV reports that a man rolled his car at the intersection of Hafnarfjarðarvegur og Álftanesvegur yesterday morning. Amazingly, no other cars were struck in the accident, although traffic was significantly delayed for some time.
According to police, the driver was scrolling through the internet on his phone while driving.
The news is a sad reminder of the reality of Icelandic driving: most Icelanders do use their phones behind the wheel, even though most of them believe it is wrong to do so. As reported, the percentage of Icelanders who admit to talking on their phones (without a hands-free device) while driving went down, but most Icelanders still do it, going from 64% in 2014 to 56% today.
However, for all other forms of using a phone while driving – whether talking hands-free, texting, or browsing online – self-reported incidences increased. At the same time, there was virtually no change between 2014 and today in the percentage of Icelanders who say they have not used their phones in any of these ways while driving, at 21%.
Fines are ridiculously low for the offense, and while the practice can be found across demographics, to greatest perpetrators are middle-aged high-income men.
According to a poll from Market and Media Research (MMR) taken last January, 85% of Icelanders believe that fines for texting or talking on the phone while driving should be increased from the current amount of 5,000 ISK.
Of those who responded, 15.6% say the fine ought to be less than 10,000 ISK; 31.7% support 11,000 to 15,000 ISK; 19.1% support 16,000 to 20,000 ISK; 16.6% support 21,000 to 30,000 ISK; and 17.1% believe the fine for phone driving should be 31,000 ISK or more.
Talk of increasing these fines has been ongoing for months now, but there has as yet been no concrete outcome.
In case you needed reminding, texting, browsing or talking on your phone without a hands-free device is very dangerous. Whatever call, text, or Like on Facebook needs to be made can wait until you stop the vehicle.
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