Norway: Proposal to tighten driver's license regulations

Norway: Proposal to tighten driver's license regulations

See also: Sweden: Immigrants more likely to have car accidents

Men from the Middle East and Africa have twice as many accidents as Norwegian-born men. The Public Roads Administration has decided to put a stop to it. Many new immigrants will have to be tested again before they will be allowed to drive a car in Norway.

If you come to Norway with a driver's license from Russia, Egypt or Argentina, you'll be given a Norwegian driver's license after doing a quick practical test - a common driving test.

About 40 nationalities can make use of this quick solution today. But the Public Roads Administration says it's unfortunate, and intends to tighten the rules so that fewer people can go for the simple method.

The Administration wants drivers from a number of countries to be forced to take the complete Norwegian driver's training, for three reasons: some immigrant groups are involved in disproportionally many accidents, it's difficult to check whether their driver's license is genuine, and in many countries driver's training is poorer than in Norway.

This proposal will affect people from these counties: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Philippines, Indonesia, China, Croatia, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Peru, Singapore, Serbia, former USSR, South-Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia and Venezuela.

Click to enlarge. Figures show accidents per 1000 drivers.

Some immigrants have traffic experience with collide with Norwegian driving culture, the research behind the proposal shows:

* In some countries motorists give little regard to pedestrians and cyclists - in Norway we expect to a greater degree that motorists stop for us.
* In some countries motorists don't need to yield unless there's a traffic sign
* In some countries people take off their seatbelts if they'll uncomfortable
* 60% of male immigrants think Norwegian traffic rules are too strict - compare to 20% of Norwegian-born men.

Moreover, some immigrant groups are involved in accidents more than Norwegian-born motorists.

Q: A large proportion of non-Western immigrants are drivers by trade and therefore more accident prone - for example Norwegian-Pakistani taxi drivers. Do the figures give an unjustified negative image?

A: We must remember that there's much more than accident-risks that led to our proposal for tightening [the regulations]," says department head Jan Edvard Isachsen of the Public Roads Administration.

He says that an important argument to change the regulations is that it's possible to get a Norwegian driver's license by presenting a fake foreign driver's license. Many countries lack a central driver's license registry, and they therefore struggle to verify that the foreign licenses are genuine. The verification process requires a disproportionate amount of resources.

Additionally, Isachsen says that they don't have much documentation about driver's training in many of these countries. In Norway there's an emphasis on attitude, conduct, and interaction in traffic, and that's not the case everywhere.

The figures show that foreign-born women are generally safer drivers than Norwegian men. Nevertheless, they will be affected by the requirement for doing the full Norwegian driver's training, if they have a driver's license from countries like Russia, Algeria, China and Argentina.

The Administration says that sparing the women will be bureaucratically impractical.

Today, many immigrants can use their foreign driver's license for a year in Norway before they must apply for a Norwegian license. This time-buffer will now shrink to three months, the Administration proposes.

In practice, this will leave many people without a driver's license while they're going through their driver's school training.

Q: Some will say you're strict?

A: The reason is our zero-vision regarding accidents. This is one of several contributions to reducing the number of injured and dead, says Isachsen.

The proposal to change the driver's license regulations is now being sent for consultation.

The Administration says that there might be interesting input from the embassies of the nationalities which will be affected.

The Administration will make the final decision on this issue.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

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