Driving in Bergen

The major highways in Bergen are E16 and 1 which run North/South and are the major routes to Trondheim and Stavanger respectively. The major West highway is 555 leading to the island of Sotra. The East highway 580 leads to Voss and eventually Oslo.

Seat belts: In Norway, seat belts are required to be worn at all times that the vehicle is in motion. Passengers are also required to wear seat belts. There are heavy fines for violators.

Lights: All vehicles are required to have their headlights on at all times, day and night. Again, there are fines for violators.

Drinking and Driving: A habit that is not tolerated is drinking and driving. The blood-alcohol limit is very, very low -- 80 mg per 100ml; equivalent to having one half litre of regular beer in an evening. You will find that most all groups on an evening out will have designated drivers. Drivers who are caught operating a car while over the limit will be arrested, put in jail or fined or both and possibly loose their driving license depending on the severity of the offence.

Roundabouts: A lot of road intersections in Bergen (and other places around Norway) have roundabouts which are very efficient for getting traffic through road intersections and are significantly safer than intersections. However, they do take some getting used to to negotiate. The basic rule is that you must yield for traffic on your left in the roundabout. That is, traffic just entering or in the roundabout has priority and you must stop at the entrance to the roundabout until that traffic clears. Also, the rule of thumb when approaching a roundabout is that you should stay to the right hand lane if you plan on going less than 180 degrees around the roundabout, and to the left hand lane if you plan to go more than 180 degrees around. If you keep these two things in mind, negotiating a roundabout becomes allot easier.

Motorcycles: Motorcycle crash helmets are compulsory for all riders and pillion passengers. One advantage of taking your motorcycle to Norway, abate the exciting winding roads, is the road tolls. In many cities like Bergen, Oslo, Drammen and Trondheim there is a toll to get into the city; as high as NOK 20,- for cars in Trondheim. Motorcyclists are exempt from these tolls and may drive through the toll gates for free. Also, in large cities with special taxi/bus lanes called "kollektivfelt", motorcyclist may use the taxi lanes as well. So, in rush hour, you can avoid allot of the snarled traffic.

Speed limits: Since the roads are narrow and winding in most places in Norway, the speed limits on the roads are relatively low.

  • Built up areas: 30kph (18mph)
  • Outside Built up areas: 50kph (30mph)
  • Motorways: 80-90kph (50 - 60mph)

In places around Bergen (in fact, over all of Norway), there are radar traps; devices with a radar unit and camera that take a clear picture of the car and license plate when the vehicle is traveling at excess speed. Speeding is not tolerated and there can be heavy fines for even 5 km/h overspeed or less.

Traffic lights: These follow the European standard - no surprises here. There is a definite German character to the traffic lights; the red and amber lights show simultaneously before changing to green. Guess it's there for drag racing.

Police: The police have powers to impose on the spot fines as is typical of most European countries - so beware.

Mountain Roads: Just in case you haven't noticed, Norway is littered with mountains especially on the West coast. The blind bends on some of the roads make negotiating them hazardous. However, be careful as it is not unusual to meet a contingent of the caravan club trundling across the middle of the road coming in the opposite direction - with the caravan yawing dangerously from side to side. Now, the Norwegians have rules for dealing with this sort of thing. You must be traveling at a speed such that you can stop in half of the distance you can see. The descending vehicle must keep to the extreme right of the road and be prepared to reverse. Some of the mountain roads are one way and there are laybys to pull into to allow traffic coming from the opposite way to pass. There is no rule governing who has priority for passing on these roads but using common sense and a chivalrous attitude when driving.

Fuel: Unleaded fuel, Blifri, is readily available.. Octane ratings are marked on the pump ... 95, 97 and 98. It is also possible to fill up with leaded fuel and, or course, diesel.

Priority: In built up areas, traffic coming from the right has priority - a bit like the rest of Europe. Trams have priority over everything as do buses pulling out from bus stops, so watch it. On the open road, traffic on the major road has priority over those roads entering it. The usual diamond international priority signs indicate whether you are on a priority road or have to give way at the next junction, if you're not capable of working it out for yourself.

Double white lines in the middle of the road are the same as the rest of mainland Europe - you must not cross them.

Oh, yes - and watch out for buses pulling out from bus stops. They have priority over you on roads with a 60 kph or less speed limit.

Warning Triangle: Compulsory.

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