Rules of the road in Russia
Everything you need to know about the roads, Russian traffic police, rules and requirements.
The road system and traffic rules in Russia aren’t dramatically different from other European countries. Still, driving in Russia can be a frustrating experience, with drivers having to comply with lengthy traffic jams, poor road maintenance and random police inspections.
Who can drive in Russia?
If you’re staying in Russia for less than six months, you can use your foreign licence; a Russian translation is necessary, though. Whenever you drive in Russia, you must show an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your foreign licence, or another type of authenticated Russian translation.
You also need to meet the minimum legal driving ages as set out by Russian road law: 18 for cars and 16 for motorcycles. You won’t be able to start driving in Russia below this age, even if you have a foreign licence already.
Requirements for driving in Russia
The State Inspection for the Safety of Road Traffic (GIBDD) is Russia’s traffic police division, although many people still call it by its old name – the GAI. When driving in Russia, random vehicle stops are common for checking that you’re carrying the appropriate documents and that they’re up to date.
Russia operates a zero-tolerance for drinking policy. Alcohol checks are most common on weekends and Monday mornings; if you fail a test, you’ll need to give a blood sample. You are required by law to carry the following items at all times:
- Warning triangle: compulsory on board all motor vehicles.
- Headlight beam deflectors: depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually.
- First aid kit and fire extinguisher: compulsory in all motor vehicles.
- Spare light bulbs
- Motorcyclists: helmets are compulsory when riding on a scooter or a motorcycle
You should also carry your Russian driving licence or international driving permit, proof of auto insurance in Russia, passport and proof of vehicle ownership. If you fail to carry these items you could face a fine.
Traffic rules in Russia
Some of the key things you need to know:
- You must drive on the right-hand side of the road, overtake on the left.
- Using your mobile when driving is illegal (without a hands-free kit).
- Turning right at a red light is only allowed if separate arrow-shaped green light permits it.
- It is prohibited to turn left in large towns other than at crossings with lights.
- Crossing a solid double white line is illegal.
- It’s illegal to drive a dirty car.
- Priority: traffic coming from the right has priority at roundabouts, unless otherwise signposted. Priority must be given to convoys of vehicles and to emergency vehicles using flashing lights. Trams and buses also have right of way.
- Towing: It is advisable to draw up an inventory of the contents of a trailer or caravan, although not required.
- Seat belts: mandatory for the driver and any passengers.
- Only use the horn in towns if there is immediate danger.
- Travelling with children: it is prohibited to carry a child less than 12 years of age in the front seat of a car when there is no special child restraint. It is also prohibited to carry a child less than 12 years of age on the rear seat of a motorcycle.
- Driving is on the right side of the road
- The minimum age to drive a car is 18
- Wearing of seat belts is mandatory in both front and back seats
- Speaking on a mobile phone while driving (without a handsfree device) is a serious offence
- Crossing a solid double white line is forbidden
- Turning right at a red light is not allowed when there is no special green arrow traffic light
- It is illegal for children under the age of 12 to travel in the front seat
- Picking up hitchhikers is illegal
- Dipped headlights must be used during the day
- It is illegal to drive a dirty car, especially with mud on the licence plates fines for this range from R.800 to R.2,000
- A minimum of third-party insurance is compulsory
General speed limits in Russia
Speed limits vary depending on the vehicle you’re driving in Russia and the area you’re driving in.
For motorcycles and cars under 3.5 tonnes, the limits are generally 60km/h in built-up areas, 90km/h on highways and 110km/h on expressways and other roads.
Larger vehicles and those with trailers, however, can only drive at up to 90km/h on expressways and 70km/h on other roads.
In some residential areas, there is a 20 km/h speed limit for all vehicles. This should be clearly signposted.
Anti-radar equipment which interferes with specific radio frequencies to jam police signals is prohibited.
Fixed-date departure toursOther current tours
Best overland tours In Russia and CIS countries
Fly and Drive
Unique tours of the great cities, unknown places, winter and summer drive experiece
We provide: logistics, paperwork, escort and local guide services