Road Conditions & Hazards
Good main-road surfaces and light traffic (especially outside the capital and Southwest region) make driving in Iceland relatively easy, but there are some specific hazards. Watch the ‘Drive Safely on Icelandic Roads’ video on www.drive.is for more.
Livestock Sheep graze in the countryside over the summer, and often wander onto roads. Slow down when you see livestock on or near roadsides.
Unsurfaced roads The transition from sealed to gravel roads is marked with the warning sign ‘Malbik Endar’ – slow right down to avoid skidding when you hit the gravel. Most accidents involving foreign drivers in Iceland are caused by the use of excessive speed on unsurfaced roads. If your car does begin to skid, take your foot off the accelerator and gently turn the car in the direction you want the front wheels to go. Do not brake.
Blind rises In most cases, roads have two lanes with steeply cambered sides and no hard shoulder; be prepared for oncoming traffic in the centre of the road, and slow down and stay to the right when approaching a blind rise, marked as ‘Blindhæð’ on road signs.
Single-lane bridges Slow down and be prepared to give way when approaching single-lane bridges (marked as ‘Einbreið Brú’). Right of way is with the car closest to the bridge.
Sun glare With the sun often sitting low to the horizon, sunglasses are recommended.
Winter conditions In winter make sure your car is fitted with winter tyres, and carry a shovel, blankets, food and water.
Ash- & sandstorms Volcanic ash and severe sandstorms can strip paint off cars; strong winds can even topple your vehicle. At-risk areas are marked with orange warning signs.
F roads Roads suitable for 4WD vehicles only.
River crossings Few highland roads have bridges over rivers. Fords are marked on maps with a ‘V’.
Tunnels There are a number of tunnels in Iceland – a couple are single lane, and a little anxiety-inducing! Before you enter such tunnels, a sign will indicate which direction has right of way. There will be a couple of pull-over bays inside the tunnel (signed 'M'). If the passing bay is on your side in the tunnel, you are obligated to pull in and let oncoming traffic pass you.