The father of a family from India who was on holiday in Norway last weekend is now sitting in jail in scenic Lofoten, charged with reckless driving and excessive speed on one of the archipelago’s narrow roads. He was caught driving 107kph (64mph) in a 50-zone (30mph) and police seized his driver’s license on the spot.
“Completely unacceptable” was how the head of the highway patrol, Geir Martinesen, described the man’s driving to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Thursday. The serious traffic offense took place on the E10 highway at Laupstad in Lofoten on Monday, the last day of Norway’s three-day Pinse (Whitsund) holiday weekend, when many visitors and Norwegians alike were out on the roads.
Police not only seized his driver’s license but also charged the man, in his 30s, with reckless driving and put him in remand custody for at least two weeks. He and his family had airline tickets back to India on June 7, and police wanted to make sure he would not leave the country before facing his charges in court.
Many others caught speeding, too
Martinsen said the man from India was not the only tourist who lost his license in speed controls set up on Lofoten on Monday. The area is a magnet for tourists, famed for its mountains soaring up from the sea, and it’s becoming increasingly crowded every summer. Police claim many tourists, however, have little if any respect for Norwegian speed limts.
“One thing is that they drive very fast in high-speed zones,” Martinsen told NRK, “but then they maintain high speed in low-speed zones.” Martinsen is district leader of the state police’s highway patrol for Nordland, Troms and Finnmark counties, and has long experience with traffic offenders. Fully 24 motorists were fined for breaking the speed limit on Monday, and five lost their licenses.
Bad habits from home
“Too many people drive way too fast on the E10 and many of them are tourists,” Martinsen said. “It’s sad to register that. We see that they take unwanted driving habits with them from home, and they’re not compatible with Norwegian road conditions.” Many of the roads in Norway are narrow and must be shared with cyclists and pedestrians.
“There’s a reason we post low speed limits,” Martinsen said. Police inspector Steffen Ravnåsen of the Nordland Police District told local newspaper Lofotposten that the man from India had acknowledged his reckless driving and would not contest the charges against him.
“We intend to ask (the local court) that he be sentenced to 21 days in jail for how he drove in the 50-zone on Monday,” Ravnåsen told Lofotposten. Martinsen, meanwhile, said he fears another summer full of accidents if tourists continue to ignore posted speed limits.