Road conditions in Iceland vary substantially. Route 1 (highway no 1) is mostly paved, but other country roads are often very narrow, steep and washboarded gravel tracks with potholes and sharp corners. Those unfamiliar with such conditions often find it difficult to drive on Icelandic roads, especially gravel roads.
Choose a vehicle which you are used to driving and can handle easily.
Slow down when you meet other vehicles, especially when driving on a gravel road. Where the road changes from a paved road to a gravel road, you need to slow down considerably. Many serious accidents occur every year at such places, especially among drivers who are unfamiliar with such road conditions. They lose control of their vehicle and drive off the road.
Blind summits are common in Iceland. Slow down and keep to the right-hand edge of the road.
One-lane bridges are still common in Iceland. Slow down and use caution when driving across them
Roads are often raised on embankments to keep them clear of winter snows. Therefore roll-over accidents often occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles and drive off the road. Such accidents can be very serious, especially when seat belts are not used.
There is sunlight 24 hours a day in the summertime. Drivers need to be aware of this and not drive for too long, as they might otherwise fall asleep behind the wheel.
The speed limit in urban areas is normally 50 km per hour. Outside towns, it is 90 km per hour on paved roads and 80 km per hour on gravel roads. Always adjust your speed to the driving conditions.
Domestic animals are often close to, or even on, country roads. If you hit a domestic animal you must notify the nearest farm or police. Most farmers are insured today. Beware of lambs who may run to their mother across the road when they get scared. Do not try to make a sudden swing around an animal as this may cause you to lose control of the car and roll-over.
The use of hands-free kits is compulsory for mobile phone use whilst driving.
Driving while intoxicated from drug or alcohol use is prohibited.
Headlamps are required to be lit 24 hours a day while the vehicle is in operation.
Weather conditions can change quickly, no matter if it is summer or winter. Route 1 Car Rental always recommends that you check the weather and road conditions before heading out on your travels. The following websites give you great insight about road conditions and weather:
Strong winds can make you loose grip of the door and cause it to fly open and damage the car. Get used to holding on tightly to the handle when the doors are opened.
The emergency services app is called 112 Iceland. It is easy to use and adds safety to your trip. Read about it and download it here.
The use of front and back seat belts is compulsory in Iceland – they save lives!