A relatively large percentage of foreign tourists in Iceland travel around the country
by car. Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike those
that foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to know how to
drive in this country.
We know that the landscape is beautiful, and naturally draws the driver’s attention
away from the road. However, in order to reach your destination safely, you must
keep your full attention on driving.
We highly reccommend watching this video before driving in Iceland
Seatbelts required by law
In Iceland, drivers and passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts, regardless
of the type of vehicle or where they are seated. Investigations of fatal accidents in
recent years have shown that a large majority of those who died as drivers or
passengers in cars did not have their seatbelts buckled. Wearing seatbelts is
especially important because of the nature of accidents in Iceland; many of them involve
vehicles driving off the road and rolling over. In such accidents, seatbelts often
mean the difference between life and death. It should be noted that children must
either wear seatbelts, or be in car safety seats, depending on their age and maturity
Single lane bridges
There are many single lane bridges on the Ring Road. The actual rule is that the car
closer to the bridge has the right-of-way. However, it is wise to stop and assess the
situation, i.e. attempt to see what the other driver plans to do. This sign indicates that
a single lane bridge is ahead.
Gravel roads, blind hills & blind curves
A common place for accidents to occur on rural roads is where a paved road
suddenly changes to gravel. The main reason is that drivers do not reduce speed
before the changeover to gravel, and consequently lose control. Loose gravel on
road shoulders has also caused a great number of accidents.
When driving on gravel roads—which are often quite narrow––it is important to show
caution when approaching another car coming from the opposite direction by moving
as far to the right as is safely possible.
Blind hills––where lanes are not separate––can be very dangerous, and should be
approached with caution. There are also many blind curves in Iceland that test a
What are the speed limits?
The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/h. Speed limit signs are
not posted unless other speed limits apply. The speed limit is often 60 km/h on
throughways. In residential areas it is usually only 30 km/h. The rule of thumb in rural
areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/h, and paved roads 90 km/h.
Speed enforcement cameras are widely used in addition to strict police surveillance.
Speeding fines can reach up to over a hundred thousand ISK. It is also important
to note that even if a driver has left the country he or she is still obligated to pay the
In several places there are traffic signs (white numbers on a blue square
background) which indicate the recommended maximum speed, where
drivers should realize that the recommended maximum speed can be less than the
permitted speed limit due to driving conditions.
We recommend everyone to check out this web page for road conditions in Iceland
SafeTravel is an accident prevention project of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue aimed at providing travelers with education and resources for safe travel in Iceland. The project was founded in 2010 and has since grown to include a variety of features including travel plan submissions, personal locator beacon rentals and a one stop, up to date travel conditions interface.Click here for their website