Most countryside roads in Iceland are gravel roads not suited to fast driving. Rental car drivers should be careful and show other road users consideration at all times. When cars meet, driver should slow down, and pull to the side of the road. Speed limit on gravel roads is 80 km/h. Driving responsibly on gravel roads in Iceland is a key for safety.
Iceland car speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas, 80 km/h (50 mph) on gravel roads in countryside, and 90 km/h (56 mph) on hard-surfaced roads. Special warning signs indicate danger ahead such as harp bends, but there is generally no separate sign to reduce speed. Speed cameras are situated both in Reykjavík capitol area and along the Route 1 ring road. Fines have been almost doubled, so our advice is to go easy on the gas pedal.
Iceland rental cars are not meant for highland roads (roads marked with F) and all driving is forbidden and not insured. 4x4 and AWD (All Wheel Drive) rental cars are however, suitable for the highland. Please note that all off-road driving in Iceland is strictly forbidden. The fragile nature outside the beaten path is very vulnarable so we ask you kindly not to strafe off road.
There are many blind hills on the Icelandic roads, some of them without any markings at all. Many of them however, are marked with the warning sign "Other danger" above the word "blindhaed" (Blind rise). Here it is best to slow considerable down in case of any oncoming traffic. The slogan "better to be safe then sorry" applies here.
Bridges in Iceland
Many bridges are too narrow to allow more than one car to cross at a time. Even though it is the 2020 Iceland still has a few single lane bridges. When crossing single lane bridges the rule is first come first serve, and we recommend you reduce speed while crossing for safety. I supose we are working on the matter to eliminate single lane bridges in Iceland but until, please be careful.
Please check information about the various roads and tracks in the highlands and other areas before you take on the road. Best is to check safetravel.is or road.is, there you will get the best details on travelling in Iceland by a rental car. Highland roads, F-roads, are often impassable far into summer. On averige F-roads open mid-June and close up around late September or early October. Please remember that driving off the established roads and tracks is forbidden in the highlands as well as everywhere else. On F-roads, please be careful of lose rocks on the road, they can damage your vehicle or oncoming traffic.
Always pay attention to road signs, especially when travelling on unfamiliar roads.
Rivers in the highlands
Many rivers in the highlands are not bridged. Therefore, it is important that you make sure that the conditions are safe before you attempt to cross - especially when a vehicle is travelling unaccompanied, i.e. not in a convoy. You are not covered is you experience water damage to your rental car in Iceland. Do not drive faster than 5 km/h and be in the lowest possible gear. If you are unsure on the water level it is best to take off your shoes and get your feet wet by wading into the river to check the best path to cross. Do not think the narrowest gap you see up or down stream is the best route as this is most often were the river is deepest. If you see an obvious path over, use that spot as it is the common route over the river. Good tip is to always cross rivers by down stream direction as it is safest and reduces the risk of getting water into the engine. Highland rivers have different water levels depending on the season. If they have too much water and/or currant then it is safe to assume that it is impassable. Please be careful.
Animals on the road
Please be prepared for farm animals grazing by the roadside and straying into or crossing the road. Drivers who cause injury or death to such animals may be liable to claims for compensation. You can experience this through out the summer but late May and mid September you see more animals as farmer have brought them back home from the higlands.
Driving under the influence (DUI).
No-one may drive a motor vehicle in Iceland after drinking alcoholic beverages. Period. There is no tollerance in the law for any amount of alcohol in your blood. Please do not test this rule!
All travellers are obliged to use safety belts where they are available. This saves lifes, be smart :)
Drivers are obliged to drive with headlights on at all times. This is mandatory and the police in Iceland are often quite sensitive regarding the matter. Just remember to turn them off as not all rental vehicles do that automatically. It is a bad situation having a dead battry in middle of nowhere. In situations like that, please call your rental car emergency number.d
Now! You should be a little better prepared for your car rental Iceland adventure. Driving in Iceland is something that only few people have tried as the circumstances are very different from what you are used to.