'Speed devils' plague the roads

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Police in Norway have been seizing drivers’ licenses at a record pace this summer, part of a crackdown on speeding. Their counterparts over the border in Sweden say that Norwegian drivers account for eight out of 10 traffic tickets issued on the E6 highway around Tanum.

“The Norwegians say our roads are better and they think our fines are cheap, when converted to Norwegian kroner,” Bert-Arne Larsson, a Swedish police officer in Vänersborg, told newspaper VG .He and his colleagues say Norwegian drivers are over-represented in the traffic fine statistics. In some traffic controls, when police set up their own speed monitors and pull over drivers en masse, only Norwegians have exceeded the speed limits.

“It’s become a saying that ‘Norwegians drive like the devil’ when they come to Sweden, and it’s not popular,” said Thomas Carlson of the agency that advocates safe driving, Trygg Trafikk . “We think it is because the roads are better in Sweden and tempt Norwegians into driving too fast.”

Back home in Norway, the police are mounting organized traffic controls all over the country this summer, and already have not only issued many more citations than last year, but also have confiscated far more drivers’ licenses on the spot.

Police snatched 3,376 drivers’ licenses (called førerkort in Norwegian) in the first six months of this year, according to statistics from Trygg Trafikk. That’s up nearly 10 percent, by around 300 confiscations, from the same period last year.

Police estimate they will seize another 2,000 licenses this summer alone. “Those who have a tendency to drive too fast, drive even faster in the summer months,” Runar Karlsen of the state police’s traffic division UP told newspaper Aftenposten .

“That, combined with the fact that the most fatal car crashes occur in the summer, is disturbing.”