Driving in Iceland safe

Driving in Iceland safe is a priority at Saga Car Rental Iceland. While enjoying your travel in Iceland, with its outstanding scenery and rugged landscape, please note that Icelandic road conditions vary considerably and can even be dangerous. Especially to those unfamiliar with the particularities of the terrain such as gravel roads, the free roaming Icelandic sheep and the difficult, unbridged rivers. Drive safe and be careful while driving your rental car in Iceland.
We offer quality cars for rental but if you have any problems with your rental car we offer 24/7 roadside assistance in Iceland.
For driving in Iceland safe, you may have to rely more than usually on your good sense and judgement. The main route 1, is narrow but mostly paved but other country roads can be hazardous. When encountering one-lane bridges or entering gravel roads extra caution is needed.
Driving in Iceland during winter needs different skills and winter tyres are needed.
Mobile phone connection can be unstable in rural areas, so please do not rely on the mobile as a safety measure. We recommend the use of GPS navigation system but always be alert and never follow it blindly as situation can change frequently here in Iceland. If you are traveling with your family and kids make sure you have quality childs seats in the rental car.

Seatbelts are required by law

Please note that the use of seat belts is obligatory in Iceland for the driver and passengers. The headlamps should be lit 24 hours a day, while your rental car is in operation. Minimum age to drive a rental car is 21 but we offer special young driver offer for drivers age 19-21. A drivers license is needed and you can use your license you use at home.

Stopping on the roadside is illegal and dangerous

In Iceland there are increasing problems and accidents due to tourists who stop on the roadside to take photos.
Please note that this is extremely dangerous both for you and other drivers.
It is also not allowed to feed fenced animals !
There was a recent fatal accident caused by a driver who stopped on the roadside to take photos.

Average speed limits 

  • 50 km/h in urban areas (some streets 30 km/h)
  • 70 km/h in most road tunnels
  • 80 km/h on gravel roads
  • 90 km/h on paved (asphalt) roads

Please note that in poor weather or bad weather condition you should show extra caution and drive slower than the above.

Speed cameras are also located around the Island and in all road tunnels. Speed fines can go over 100.000 ISK.

Road condition in Iceland

For driving in Iceland safe, you may have to rely more than usually on your good sense and judgement. The main route 1, is narrow but mostly paved but other country roads can be hazardous. When encountering one-lane bridges or entering gravel roads extra caution is needed.

The Icelandic Road Administration, Vegagerðin, offers information about open and closed roads and road conditions and can be reached by phone in 1777. The Icelandic Met Office, Veðurstofan, offers weather conditions all around the Island and a weather forecast.


Roads can be temperarely closed due to extreme road conditions, weather, snow, sandstorm etc. You should never enter a closed road as it can be simply dangerous, cause costly damages to your rental vehicle and cause delays on your trip.You can see information regarding blocked roads at Vegagerðin or by phone at 1777.

One lane bridges

Manu bridges in the rural area are so narrow that they only allow one car to cross at a time. You need to show extra caution before entering a bridge and make sure that no one is entering from the other side. 

Please note that there was a recent fatal accident where drivers entered a narrow bridge at the same time.

Before planning a car rental trip to the highland, make sure that the so called F-roads and gravel tracks are open and please be sure that you have the appropriate rental vehicle for such a trip. Some F-roads may be passable by larger AWD or 4x4 rental vehicles only.

Animals on the roads

In rural areas it is common for animals such as sheep, cows or horses to be grazing by the roadside. Be extremely cautious while driving past the animals as they tend to run into the road or tempt to cross over it. 
Drivers who cause injury to such animal are liable to claims of compensation for the animal. If an animal is injured or killed in a collision, please contact the nearest farm and pass on the information so the animal can be taken care of.

Off road driving is illegal !

Driving off designated roads or tracks in your rental car is illegal in Iceland. You must show extra precaution if you plan to cross a river in the rental car. Only AWD or 4x4 rental vehicles are suitable and some rivers are not even passable by AWD or 4x4 rental vehicles. It is always your responsibility when crossing a river in a rental vehicle. If you rent a 4x4 you can buy special river-ford crossing (RFC) insurance. Please ask at the desk.

Sand and ash storms 

Sand and ash storms are most common in the southern part of Iceland and in dry areas. It can also happen on Road 1 ! 
They can cause a very expensive damage to your rental car where it damages the paint, glass, lights and numerous other parts of the car.  The renter is fully liable for the repair cost unless purchasing a specific Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP) insurance.


Crossing unbridged rivers

Please note that even small rivers can turn out to be very dangerous. We at Saga Car Rental do not recommend for our customers to drive through rivers as the damage cost can be severe. This can also cause serious delays on your trip if anything happends to the rental vehicle.

Crossing rivers requires certain skills and special driving techniques and knowledge where it is best to cross the river and in what condition the riverbed is. You need to find the correct ford, water depth must not be higher than 50 % of the wheel and you should drive SLOWLY. Slowly means 4 km/h.