Road Rules and Regulations in Russia

The traffic and driving laws motorists need to know before taking to the road in Russia…

  • 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

Note: Snow tyres are not mandatory in Russia in winter.

  • For an official list of all traffic fines: Click here (in Russian)
  • For a website showing what road signs look like: Click here (in Russian)
  • For an application for Android mobile phone users (in Russian) presenting the main road signs: Click here

What to Carry in the Car

Drivers must carry at all times the originals of all the documents below, and traffic police can stop a car at any time for a check.

  • Passport including a valid visa
  • Migration card
  • Valid driving licence
  • Insurance policy
  • Car registration paper
  • Certificate of annual technical inspection

It is also mandatory to carry the following items:

  • First-aid kit (it is advisable to include latex gloves and a sterile syringe)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Emergency triangle sign
  • A neon reflective vest

Speed Limits

Speed limits are shown in kilometres per hour (Km/h). Inside built-up areas, the speed limit is 60 Km/h, 90 Km/h outside these zones, and 100 Km/h on highways. These apply to all types of roads.

The traffic police have the authority to issue fines on the spot as well as to suspend the driving licence of the offending driver or even to make an arrest in the case of drunk driving and to detain the vehicle.

  • For an official list of all traffic fines: Click here (in Russian)

Some common penalties for speeding include:

Offence Penalty
Exceeding speed limit by 10-20 Km/h Warning or R.100 fine
Exceeding speed limit by 20-40 Km/h R.300 fine
Exceeding speed limit by 40-60 Km/h R.1,000-1,500 fine
Exceeding speed limit by more than 60 Km/h R.2,000-2,500, disqualification for 4-6 months or suspension of licence

Toll Roads

The toll system is relatively new in Russia. Plans started being developed in 2005, but very few toll roads have been introduced since. One completed toll road is the 18 Km section of the Lipetsk Highway M-4 from Moscow to Novorossiysk, where cars have to pay R.10 to pass. Charges are payable in cash.

Another new development is the toll section of the ‘Western High-Speed Diameter’ in St Petersburg, where cars passing the 5 Km toll road must pay R.30 during the day (07:00-23:00) and R.10 at night. Plans include being able to pay with a transponder or a smart card, both of which will offer different rates of discount from the standard fees payable at toll booths.

Some provincial administrations have also imposed tolls on some roads. One example is the road between Ostrov and the Latvian and Estonian borders in Pskov County  in Western Russia, where tolls range from R.150-300 per car.

Police Checks

According to Russian law, traffic police have the right to stop a vehicle at any time and for any reason, for a road check. The driver is not obliged to exit the vehicle, but their documents and the papers of the car must be shown. The police may issue a ticket for a fine and keep the driving licence, but the driver’s identity papers and the vehicle papers should be returned.

Towing

Traffic police can impound and tow a car belonging to a driver who: is caught driving while intoxicated; refuses to take an alcohol test; cannot produce a driving licence, car registration papers or the documents confirming ownership of the car; has illegally stopped or parked the car in forbidden area: or if the car has faulty brakes or a faulty steering system.

If a car is towed, the driver will have to pay a fine for the offence committed, for the towing costs and the hourly fees for the time the car was impounded. These costs can amount to R.10,000 or more and fines must be paid in cash.

Drink Driving

Russia has a zero tolerance policy to drinking and driving. If a driver is caught, the driving licence can be suspended for two years.