Important traffic laws in Iceland for hired cars

In Iceland the speed limit is 50 km/h or 31 mph in urban areas and within city limits, 80 km/h or 50 mph on gravel roads and 90 km/h or 56 mph on paved hard-surfaced roads. Icelandic traffic laws state that It is illegal to turn right on a red light.
Road signs indicate the maximum speed and special warning signs indicate danger ahead such as sharp bends, however, there is generally no separate road sign to reduce speed.
Many intersections in the capital have traffic cameras to catch traffic violators and country roads have traffic cameras to catch speeding drivers.

Most mountain roads in the center of Iceland are very narrow gravel roads that are not made for fast driving. Speeding in a hired car on gravel roads is a very, very bad idea and the standard speed limit is 80 km/h or 50 mph.

Icelandic Highland roads and traffic laws

Most mountain roads in the interior of Iceland are very narrow gravel roads that are not made for fast driving. Speeding in a hired car on gravel roads is a very, very bad idea and the standard speed limit is 80 km/h or 50 mph.

Note to hired car drivers: All off-road driving in Iceland is strictly forbidden.
The word "road" in this context means the mapped tracks, however faint, that are already present.
We ask all those intending to hire a car in Iceland to note that all off-road driving is strictly forbidden in Iceland. Swaying off the marked road or track is prohibited by the Icelandic traffic laws and breaking these laws carries with it a substantial fine.

Headlights in Iceland

When driving a hired car in Iceland please remember that all drivers are obliged to drive with headlights on at all times. This is not only the law but a general safety regulation intended to make your car more noticeable in the changing light conditions.
Iceland has short and dark winter days with little daylight and long summer days which are not very bright. During the fall and the spring the sun is low in the sky and can be blinding.

A cars bright and steady headlights catch a drivers eye better than anything else and make the car more visible as a moving object.
We advise our hired car drivers that when driving on the open country roads in Iceland only use the cars high beam lights after dark.
Remember to turn off the high beam lights of your hired car when you are about to pass a car going in the opposite direction.

The general rule is that both drivers turn off their high beam lights and switch to normal headlights when the lights of the respective cars meet on the icelandic highway.


Drinking and driving or DUI / DWI in Iceland

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in Iceland. Operating a motor vehicle in Iceland after drinking alcoholic beverages carries a heavy fine and can lead to imprisonment. Drink/drive laws are strictly enforced.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a serious offense in Iceland.

The threshold blood alcohol test (BAT) level is very low. Drivers can be charged with DUI with a BAT as low as .05%.
Drivers stopped under suspicion of DUI are usually given a "balloon" or Breathalyzer test. If the test is positive, a blood test is routinely administered. Under Icelandic traffic law, a blood test cannot be refused and will be administered by force if necessary.

The minimum punishment for a first offense is a fine of 70,000 Icelandic Kronur which amounts to approximately 625 US Dollars and the loss of driving privileges for two months.

Seat belts in Hired Cars Iceland

Both the driver of a hired vehicle and the passengers must use seat belts at all times in both the front and rear seats, and children under the age of six must be secured in a special car seat designed for their size and weight.
The use of seat belts are where they are available is mandatory by law in Iceland. Drivers are held responsible for any passenger under the age of 15 not wearing a seatbelt. No one shorter than 140 centimeters, lighter than 40 kilograms, or younger than 12 years of age is allowed to ride in a front seat equipped with an airbag.

Mobile phone / cell phone

Traffic laws in Iceland forbid talking on cell phones or mobile phones while driving in Iceland, except when using a hands-free system. Breaking this traffic law carries a fine of about 5000 Icelandic Kronur which is approximately 45 US Dollars.