Icelandic Police Think Drivers Are Drunk, But They're Just Distracted By Northern Lights


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockFeb 16 2017, 15:39 UTC

Eyes on the road, peeps. Rw1609/Shutterstock

For the second time in a week, Icelandic police have pulled over drivers who were struggling to stay in their lane on the suspicion they were drunk. The first incident was on the Reykjanesbraut highway and second in the town Njarðvík, both along the idyllic coastal roads between Iceland’s main airport and its capital Reykjavik.

However, in both cases, the stone cold sober tourists had to explain to the police that they were just mesmerized by the stunning Northern Lights and weren’t focusing on the road. Who could blame them, I suppose?


According to a police press release sent to Iceland Monitor“The reason for this driving style was not intoxication, the driver told the police he saw the northern lights and couldn’t bring himself to stop looking at them, as he kept on driving. The police asked him to park the vehicle if he wanted to keep on gazing at the sky.”

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is caused by an interaction between the charged particles from the Sun’s solar storms and Earth’s magnetic field. It takes approximately 40 hours for these solar winds to reach Earth. When they hit Earth's magnetic shield, they "excite" the atoms and molecules within, causing them to release this glow.

Iceland isn’t known for its crime, aside from an unprecedented recent murder that “gripped the nation.” However, the beauty of the Aurora Borealis is frequently a problem for its authorities. In 2015, the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration complained that foreign motorists were causing accidents by parking their cars on the side of the road to take photographs of the country’s natural wonders, of which it has plenty. Just some of this fairytale land’s features include glaciers, volcanoes, lava fields, hot spring geysers, wild horses, and – of course – the Northern Lights.


Damn it, Iceland, stop being so pretty.

[H/T: BBC News]

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