Speed Limits in Iceland and Restrictions
Updated: Aug 31
Excessive speed is one of the principal causes of accidents in Iceland. It isn't just the climate and the street conditions we have to focus on. Excessive speed reduces reaction time, makes it difficult to control the vehicle on any Iceland road. Therefore, once you get your rental car, it is essential to be aware of the general speed limit. In Iceland, there are several types of roads, and speed limits change depending on that. Let’s find out.
Types of Roads in Iceland
Iceland might be one of Europe’s biggest island, but it is still small compared to other European countries. Do not expect broad and massive highways where you can drive up to 120km per hour. The island’s terrain and its mountainous areas make it very hard to have such type of road. We can then say there are three main types of roads in Iceland:
The Ring Road: The nation’s main road. It goes around the island and connects most villages and cities. It is 1.339 km long. Most touristic landmarks are close by this road, so most travelers create their itinerary based on road number 1 or Ring Road. It is mostly paved, but there are a few sections that are a gravel road.
F Roads: found in the Highlands for which you need a 4x4 car rental. F-Roads in Iceland are not paved and are very tough to drive on.
Secondary roads: Those roads that are not the Ring Road nor F-Roads. These are mostly paved and easy to drive on too.
The speed limits in Iceland
So now that we have the basic sketch of what roads are like, let’s see what the speed limits in Iceland are:
50km/h in urban areas, 80km/h on not paved, gravel roads rural areas and 90 km/h on paved rural roads.
In residential areas, the limit is not 50 km but 30km per hour.
These are the maximum legal limits, but it does not mean that it is always the right speed. The right speed is the one that allows you to have control of the vehicle under certain circumstances. It is adapted to the road and weather conditions. If you are driving on gravel roads in rural areas, slow down. Having a rock flying off into your windshield and leaving a crack or chip is not a desirable situation.
The cost of repair will be charged to your credit card once you return the vehicle to the rental agency. Cars in Iceland may also encounter a flock of sheep on roads in rural areas, this is very common, so driving in the adequate speed may save the day. And a sheep, of course.
Speeding tickets in Iceland - Avoiding fines
We all get a speeding ticket at least once in a lifetime. Getting one in Iceland can be very expensive and have a significant effect on your pocket and budget. But speeding is not the only reason why you can get fined. Be sure not to break the following rules:
Drive under the influence: This may look like an obvious one, but people violate the law anyway. It can not only be life-threatening for you but for those who are sharing the road with you too. Driving under the influence is considered negligent and reckless driving. No insurance would cover the damages caused in an accident. So besides getting a considerable fine, you would have to pay for any harm caused. Human lives do not have a price anyway. Be responsible.
Using mobile phones while driving: the use of cell phones and driving a vehicle is incompatible if you are not using any hands-free device. Checking a WhatsApp message can wait. And if it is urgent, pull over to the side of the road in a safe area.
Driving off roads: This should not be done under any circumstance and is forbidden. Iceland’s nature is beautiful yet fragile. It can also be very dangerous. You can destroy our flora by driving on the moss or another type of vegetation. But you can also find yourself in a risky situation if you don’t stay within the marked tracks. Island is an active geothermal land so you can end up is falling into a hot pot with boiling water, a volcanic area, or in freezing waters.
Do not overtake on the left: In Iceland, this can only be done on the right and with a clear view and visibility of vehicles coming from the other side.
Speed limits in Iceland
Driving in Iceland is not too hard if you use your common sense. Also, be sure to check the forecast and road conditions several times a day. These websites are continuously updated, and they are available 24 hours with just one click. Knowing what you can come across on the road precisely will avoid unwanted situations. Enjoy Iceland and be safe while on the road!