Please read the following section about safe driving in Iceland.
Cars Iceland your rental Car in Iceland. Emergency breakdown phone number 24/7: +354 773 70 70
DRIVING SAFELY IN ICELAND
Despite what some might say, driving in Iceland is not scary or dangerous; it’s just likely very different than anything you’ve ever experienced.
Driving safely in Iceland is important, and you need to come prepared knowing what to expect.
Inexperienced drivers or those not used to Icelandic roads and weather conditions can easily have an accident if they’re not cautious or drive their Car Rental Iceland too quickly.
There’s lots of travel information to digest when talking about driving safety in Iceland. Everything from the speed limit in Iceland to common mistakes newbies make. You might not be aware because the laws, weather, and roads conditions are different.
For starters, we drive on the right and pass on the left. Every passenger in your car must wear a seatbelt, and you have to keep your headlights on at all times, even in the daylight with good visibility. You also cannot drive after consuming alcohol.
Here are more safety guidelines, advice, best practices, and driving tips in Iceland. Driving safely is important, and knowing the following information will help immensely.
THE SPEED LIMIT IN ICELAND
The speed limit in Iceland varies, depending on if you are close to an urban area and whether or not you are driving on a paved asphalt road or an unpaved gravel road.
50km/h (31 mph) in residential areas
80km/h (50 mph) on gravel roads in rural/unpopulated areas
90 km/h (56 mph) on paved roads in rural/unpopulated areas
Stick to the speed limit for both your safety and that of other drivers. And please remember that these are maximum speeds. Sometimes it’s smarter and safer to go slower due to inclement weather, bad road conditions, or other unforeseen circumstances.
STAYING ALERT WHILE DRIVING IN ICELAND
It’s especially important to stay alert while driving in Iceland. Many drivers become distracted by the beauty of the scenery and forget to keep their eyes on the road.
Fatigue is another culprit that can compromise driving safety in Iceland. In the summertime, we have nearly 24-hour sunlight thanks to the Midnight Sun. It’s easy to forget how many hours you’ve been on the road, so always avoid driving while tired.
Take breaks, rest, and leave time to stop the car and step out to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and take pictures.
GRAVEL ROADS AND F-ROADS
While much of the Ring Road is asphalt, there are many unpaved roads in rural parts of Iceland. Always drive carefully as speeding on gravel may cause pebbles to go flying and hit other cars or damage the underside of your Iceland car rental. Beware that paved roads can suddenly become unpaved. The abrupt change is dangerous if the person behind the wheel isn’t ready or hasn’t slowed down.
By law, you must have a 4x4 vehicle when driving in Iceland’s Highlands. The special F-roads (mountain roads) here are not meant for regular passenger vehicles as the terrain can be quite treacherous and uneven. Insurance coverage on F-roads is limited and driving on F-roads in a 2WD vehicle is forbidden by law. You will receive a fine without a 4x4 vehicle.
BLINDHAED SIGNS FOR BLIND HILLS
As you approach the apex of certain hills, you may notice that you can’t really see what’s over the top due to the incline. These summits are called "blind" because the steep gradient blocks your view of oncoming traffic. You won’t see upcoming vehicles until you are about to drive over the hill. It’s quite easy to have a collision in these dangerous circumstances driving in Iceland. These inclines are marked with a yellow and red “Blindhaed” sign. Slow down and stay to the right.
These are quite common in Iceland and require the utmost of caution. Only one car or truck can pass at a time, so it’s time to practice driver courtesy and patience while watching what the other vehicle is doing in addition to signalling your intention. Pull to the side and let the other car, campervan, motorhome, or industrial vehicle.
CROSSING UNBRIDGED RIVERS
Iceland’s Highlands and backcountry are wild and untamed. You’ll likely have to ford a shallow river Oregon Trail style. But pick the right spot to cross! There are plenty of unbridged rivers, and you need to always take extreme care when crossing them. Make sure the level of the water is not too deep for your 4x4 rental in Iceland and that the water’s current is not too strong to inhibit safe passage. Please note that any water damage caused by crossing rivers isn't covered under any type of car rental insurance.
BE AWARE OF THE WEATHER AND THE WIND
Always check the weather forecast before heading out to see if any storms are approaching. If worsening weather conditions do catch you by surprise, don’t be afraid to cut your journey short by pulling into the nearest village or campsite and seeking shelter. Iceland can also be incredibly windy, so if you’re having trouble steering or controlling the wheel, pull over and wait it out until you can safely drive again. Always hold onto the door when exiting your vehicle so they don't get blown off or bent backward by a strong gust of wind.
BEWARE OF ANIMALS ON THE ROAD
Keep an eye out for animals walking along or close to the road, especially sheep. They scare easily and frequently dart out into traffic when the sound of approaching vehicles frightens them. Always pay attention to your surroundings so you’re not caught by surprise, follow the speed limit, and be on the lookout for rogue sheep.
Off-roading is strictly prohibited in Iceland. The island’s plantlife is extremely fragile, and when you drive off of marked roads, you may be causing irreparable damage. Volcanic moss can take centuries to grow back, and your destruction will be noted long after you leave. I’m sure off-road driving in Iceland looks really cool in YouTube videos, but the reality is that you are our guest. Remember to be respectful and responsible and stay on marked roads.
EMERGENCY AND HELPFUL WEBSITES
There are a couple of emergency contact numbers to keep on hand for your Iceland car rental.
112 is Iceland’s national emergency hotline. It’s the Icelandic phone number equivalent of 911 in the US or 999 in the UK.
The 24/7 emergency break down a contact number for your rental car is +354 773 70 70.
The Icelandic driving authorities realize the importance of driving safety in Iceland, so there are several websites, publications, and videos all designed to prepare you for your road trip. Here are some useful driving resources for Iceland.
The Iceland SafeTrave Website
The Road.is driving safely Webpage
The drive.is Driving in Iceland with Elfis Video.