Norway’s new transport minister from the conservative Progress Party, Bård Hoksrud, announced Friday that motorists will be able to legally drive faster on some highways in Norway than ever before. Hoksrud ceremoniously flicked a switch at a state-run traffic monitoring center in Porsgrunn at noon, raising the speed limit instantly to 110 kilometers per hour (kph), or 66mph.
The new speed limit will apply to portions of the four-lane or wider divided E18 and E6 highways through Vestfold, Telemark and Østfold.
Hoksrud argued that the higher speed limits will generate more respect for speed limits in general in Norway, which have been traditionally low and often frustrating for drivers. Until recently, nearly all of Norway’s highways were just two lanes, though, on which it’s deemed unsafe to drive faster than 80- or 90kph (50-55mph).
“It has to do with folks’ feelings of what’s fair,” Hoksrud told state broadcaster NRK. “It’s easier to accept 30kph (in school zones, for example) when you see that other roads, which can tolerate higher speed, have a speed limit you can respect.”
Hoksrud’s party, which some critics brand as populist, has long campaigned to ease some of the regulations and restrictions that have characterized life in Norway for decades, especially in the years after World War II. Raising speed limits is the latest in a series of moves to allow such things as the use of snowmobiles and segways in Norway to more sweeping reforms of agricultural, alcohol and labour policy.