Norway trebles fine for using mobile phone at the wheel

Motorists who use mobile phones while driving will from January 2021 face fines of 5,000 kroner and three points on their license.

Norway trebles fine for using mobile phone at the wheel
Photo: Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash

The government decided on Friday to significantly increase the punishment for using a mobile (without using hands free technology) while driving, VG reports.

“It must sting if you are caught using your mobile while driving your car,” transport minister Knut Arild Hareide told VG.

Under current rules, the offence can result in a fine of 1,700 and two driving licence points (prikker).

An accumulation of eight points within three years results in a six-month driving ban.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about driving in Norway

“There must be a deterrent effect, so people take this seriously,” Hareide said.

“We introduced the two points and 1,700-kroner fine and thought it would be significant, but we can see that the measure is less that we thought. That’s why we must show there are consequences for breaking the rules,” the minister continued.

The head of the National Mobile Police Service (Utrykningspolitiet, UP) backed the harsher punishment.

“We don’t think that 1,700 and two points has enough deterrent effect and positive that it has now been decided to increase this to 5,000 and more points from two to three,” the head of UP, Steven Hasseldal, told VG.

“When you are driving a car, you should be concentrating on that. We forget quite easily that one of the most dangerous things we do, both for ourselves and others, is to get in the car,” Hareide said.

The rules against mobile use also apply when waiting in traffic or at a red light, according to a supreme court ruling from this year.

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Why the cost of toll roads in Norway’s major cities could increase

The cost of using roads in Norway's biggest cities could increase due to the governemnt changing the rules for the funding it gives local authorities to spend on transport and tolls.

Why the cost of toll roads in Norway’s major cities could increase

Norway’s government has changed an agreement on local transport funding introduced under the previous administration, public broadcaster NRK reports.   

As a result, money earmarked for reducing tolls or freezing prices in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim can now be spent elsewhere. 

The government has changed the existing agreement on transport funding, which was introduced due to toll roads being a heated topic during the 2019 municipal election, to allow local authorities to increase the cost of using roads to fund other transport improvements. 

“The change means that local authorities will have greater freedom to adjust toll rates. But it must be assessed in each individual case whether local changes to the toll system will require a new submission to the Storting,” the Ministry of Transport and Communications told NRK. 

Essentially the change means that the central government contribution to urban growth planning in cities used for keeping toll road prices down has been axed. 

This means that Norway’s big cities will have around 3.7 billion collectively over the next seven years that had been allocated to reduce tolls that can now be spent on other transport projects. 

However, local councils will have to agree on how the money should be spent and whether they want to increase tolls or not. 

“If local governing authorities want to change the use of the grant funds, it must be dealt with locally politically,” the Ministry of Transport and Communications said. 

Toll prices could go up from next year if local authorities choose to raise prices, according to the ministry. Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported in June that toll rates in Bergen would return to 2020 levels. In Oslo, local politicians have signalled that they are unwilling to decrease the cost of using toll roads.