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Iceland Mag

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Travellers don't understand that signs reading "impassable" mean road is, in fact, impassable

By Staff

  • Not clear enough? The Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority will replace the word "impassable" with "closed" on its signs. Photo/Austurfrétt.

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority will stop using the word "impassable" on its signs to indicate that roads are impassable, and instead use the word "closed". Many foreign travellers don't have perfect command of English, thus misunderstanding signs which read impassable.

Read more: Police constantly assisting travellers stuck on impassable roads which they thought were shortcuts

Helga Hrönn Melsteð, a member of a Search and Rescue Unit in the village Breiðdalsvík in East Iceland told the local news site Austurfrétt that foreign travellers seem to need simpler and clearer information to ensure they don't get into trouble. She has gone on more than 40 missions this winter to assist travellers who have gotten stuck on Breiðdalsheiði heath and Öxi heath to assist travellers who are stuck. Travellers seem determined to ignore warnings:

"I told them they had driven past a sign telling travellers the road was closed, and that the sign did not only extend halfway across the road, it was equipped with blinking warning lights. The answer I got was that the message was in Icelandic. Which was not entirely accurate, but they hadn't understood the sign. Not everyone understands English equally well."

In addition to reading "Ófært" the sign reads "Impassable".

Read more:  Photos: Travellers in a compact car get stuck on mountain route 66 only suitable for trucks

A spokesman for the ICRA told Austurfrétt that the authority agrees with Helga. The ICRA has been replacing the older signs with new ones which read "Closed". This should be completed this year. 

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