Norwegian motorists suddenly face an enormous increase in traffic fines if caught speeding or fiddling with mobile phones while driving. They shot up around 30 percent as of February 1 and may, for those slapped with them, also boost the cost of insurance premiums.
Prices at the grocery stores weren’t the only things rising on Wednesday. Using a mobile phone that’s not in hands-free mode will cost NOK 9,700 (USD 970), as will ignoring right-of-way rules, illegally passing or not staying at a safe distance behind the car ahead. Exceeding speed limits under 60kmt (40mph) will cost NOK 7,800 while exceeding those above 70kmt will cost NOK 12,100. Motorists have also been warned that traffic cameras set up all over the country are in full operation.
Not even the police want to hand out such high fines, “but the best way to avoid them is to just follow the traffic regulations,” Aleksander Naley of the Sør-Vest Police District told state broadcaster NRK on Wednesday.
The higher fines are part of a response to a sharp rise in traffic deaths last year, most of which involved risky passing and excessive speed. A third of all traffic deaths are also tied to a driver’s lack of attention to the road: “Folks sit with their mobile in their hands all the time,” Christoffer Solstad Steen of the traffic safety organization Trygg Trafikk told NRK. “It’s difficult to liberate yourself from your phone, especially if it’s signalling incoming messages all the time, but we suggest setting it in quiet mode when you drive.”