Foreigners face new driving rules

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Expatriates and immigrants moving to Norway may no longer be able to simply swap their driver’s licenses from their homelands for a Norwegian license, reports newspaper Aftenposten. Highway officials want to force drivers from some countries to go to a Norwegian driving school before they’re given a license.

Easter traffic home from the mountains. PHOTO: Views and News

Men from the Middle East and Africa, claim the officials, run twice the risk of being involved in accidents as Norwegian men. Statistics also show that drivers from several countries in Asia, South America and eastern Europe are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents when driving in Norway.

Authorities also often question whether driver’s licenses presented by some foreign nationals are authentic.

“We also have little documentation regarding the drivers’ education programs in many of these countries,” Jan Edvard Isachsen of the state highway department (Vegdirektoratet) told Aftenposten.

Current rules allow for immigrants from 40 countries to convert their driver’s licenses to a Norwegian license fairly quickly. In most cases, the only extra drivers’ education required is a special course in driving on slippery roads (glattkjøringskurs).

Proposed changes will restrict the relatively quick license swap only to countries within the European Union and European Free Trade Association plus Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea and the US.

New residents from all other countries will have to complete a Norwegian driving course before obtaining a Norwegian license. Drivers will also only be able to use their own countries’ licenses in Norway for three months after arriving in Norway.

The proposed changes are being sent out to hearing and likely won’t be popular among foreigners in Norway, where driving classes are expensive and difficult to attend with limited knowledge of the Norwegian language. 

The new rules also adversely affect women from many countries who statistically drive better and are in fewer accidents than Norwegian men. The highway department, however, claims it would be “impractical” to have different licensing rules for men and women.

Earlier media reports in Norway have indicated that young Norwegian males are involved in the majority of accidents in Norway. That also raises questions about the quality of the driving schools to which foreigners now may be sent, and from which the young accident-prone men presumably have graduated.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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