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Are traffic lights any different from back home?

 

No - the international 3-colour traffic light system is used. One difference is that sometimes you can proceed on a red light if turinging right, this will be indicated with a green arrow pointing right.

What about parking regulations?

 

Stopping and parking are allowed on the right-hand side of the road, with the vehicle facing in the direction of the traffic flow. Car parks and parking metres are available in towns.

 

Stopping and parking are allowed on the left-hand side in urban areas and in one-way streets, if there are no tram lines in the middle of the street.

 

Parking on the pavement may be allowed where this does not endanger pedestrians.

 

Outside urban areas, lengthy parking, for example spending the night in the vehicle, is allowed only in the specially allocated parking places situated off the roads. Parking alongside national highways is not allowed.

 

Stopping and parking are prohibited within 5 metres of a pedestrian crossing or an intersection, as well as in places where visibility is reduced (eg on a slope or a bend). Parking is also prohibited within 50 metres of a level crossing.

 

Fines are issued for parking offences and the police can remove an illegally parked vehicle. Wheel clamps are used.

 

There are parking places reserved for vehicles used by people with disabilities. They are indicated by the letter P and the international symbol of the wheelchair.

What if I get it wrong?

 

Any on-the-spot fines must be paid through a bank. It’s illegal to pay cash.

 

Vehicles may only be confiscated following a court decision, although they could be temporarily held for forensic tests, for example.

What are the basic rules of the road?

 

• Drive on the right, overtake on the left.

• In large towns, you must not turn left other than at crossings with lights.

• Traffic coming from the right has priority at roundabouts, unless otherwise signposted.

• Priority must be given to convoys of vehicles and emergency vehicles using flashing lights. Trams and buses also have right of way.

• Use of the horn is forbidden in towns, except in cases of immediate danger.

• Dipped headlights must be used during the day.

• The wearing of seat belts is compulsory when fitted in the vehicle, for the driver and any passengers.

• Speaking on a mobile phone while driving (without a hands free device) is a serious offence.

• It’s illegal to drive a dirty car, especially with mud on the licence plates. Crossing a solid double white line is also forbidden.

• Turning right at a red light is not allowed when there is no special green arrow traffic light.

• You must not carry a child under 12 years of age in the front seat of a car when there is no special child restraint

What documents will I need?

 

You need an International Driving Permit to drive in Russia. Whatever the minimum age requirements for driving a vehicle might be in your own country, you must be 18 years old to drive a car in Russia.

 

When driving in Russia, you should carry with you:

 

• Your full, valid driving licence

• An International Driving Permit - also known as an IDP. It’s used as a complement to your UK driving license, not a replacement - so make sure you have both with you when you drive abroad.

• Proof of insurance/green card (third party or above) - A green card is still required when entering Russia and acts as proof of insurance in Europe. Green cards DO NOT provide insurance in Russia, so additional insurance will still be required.

• Proof of ID (passport)

• Proof of ownership (V5C certificate) or hire car agreement

• Russian visa/transit permit (http://ru.vfsglobal.co.uk)

 

UK Russia Travel Advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/russia

Driving through Russia can come with some further complications to driving within the UK or Mainland Europe, as such there are stricter laws on the essentials that you must have with you at all times within your vehicle. Similarly to Europe, Russia also enforce that you must carry certain breakdown and emergency items within your car, however they are far stricter with their enforcement and fines of these laws compared to UK and Mainland Europe, with hefty on the spot fines applicable for failing to carry any of the following items listed below.

 

In Russia the road signs are only in Russian for the most part and don’t have translations, however in the road book you will receive alongside your travel vouchers before your trip, English copies of Michelin maps are included for the main routes that you will need throughout your journey.

 

Here is the essential information you need to know before venturing onto Russia’s roads;

Driving in Russia - all you need to know

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Car Insurance

 

Russia are now part of the Green Card group so most UK and EU companies will extend their cover to Russia as long as the destination is west of the Ural Mountains, however it will most likely be 3rd party cover. It is important to check this on a case by case basis with insurance companies as an existing policy or green card does NOT guarantee you will be covered in Russia. Since 2003 it is mandatory to have car insurance in Russia, if you are not covered by your normal policy you will need to obtain a policy that covers you into Russia for this reason. It is also advisable to obtain extended breakdown cover for your trip where possible, ideally this would be purchased through the same company as your main insurance company, this isn’t always possible however, but local fuel stations around the border of Russia offer extended policy that you can buy for your trip.

Is there anything else I need to keep in the car with me?

 

While driving in Russia, you’re required by law to carry the following items. On-the-spot fines can be issued if you fail to do so:

 

• Warning triangle

• Headlamp beam deflectors (if you take your own car). Depending on your vehicle, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually

• First-aid kit and fire extinguisher

• Spare bulbs

• A neon reflective vest.

• Basic Russian translation of all UK documents (passport, drivers licence, insurance certificates, etc).

What are the speed limits?

 

Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers are as follows:

 

• In built-up areas – 37 mph (60 km/h);

• Outside built-up areas – 55 mph (90km/h) but 68 mph (110 km/h) on expressways.

• Motorists who’ve held a driving licence for less than two years must not exceed 43 mph (70 km/h).

• In some residential zones, 13mph (20km/h) limits are indicated.

What are the drink/drug driving laws?

 

Unlike in the UK, Russia enforce a zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving, as such if you are breathalysed in Russia the legal limit is 0% and anything that measures above that is therefore considered drink driving, punishable by fines, arrest and comes with the possibility of your car being impounded.  

 

The police use breathalysers. Trials are also being introduced to carry out tests on the saliva of drivers for the presence of narcotics. If the test is positive, the driver is then taken to a clinic for further tests.

How easy is it to find petrol stations?

 

Unleaded petrol, generally at 92 and 95 octane, is available throughout western Russia. LPG (propane-butane and methane) is available at a few stations and mostly used by Russian taxis and Lorries. Due to the widespread and sparsely populated areas, motorists are advised to keep their tank at least half full whenever possible. 98 octane fuel is only avaiable at a few stations in and around the major cities so if your engine requires this it is advised to fill up in Europe and carry a spare can of fuel.

 

Most fuel stations will accept credit or debit card, even the more remote ones, however having cash on you is advised just in case. As of April 2019, 95 octane was approximately 45 Rubles per liter (about 53 pence per litre)

Toll roads in Russia

 

Toll roads are relatively new in Russia and relatively rare. The Lipetsk Highway (M-4) from Moscow to Novorossiysk charges R10, and you’ll need to pay this fee in cash. Some other toll roads outside of the capital allow you to pay using a card but it’s advised to typically carry some cash when driving in Russia.

Is city driving as bad as they say?

 

Driving at rush hour in Moscow isn’t recommended. Traffic can be extremely heavy, and tempers can get frayed.

 

Rush hour should be avoided whenever possible (public transport is nearly always the better option). If you must drive then, allow plenty of time for your journey. Using services like Yandex.Probki (Yandex Jams) shows you where the worst hold-ups are. And stay within the rules of the road, even if the locals don’t always do likewise. Speeding is dangerous, and likely to land you in trouble with the police.

Useful numbers:

 

112 - Here’s a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you’re visiting. Operators can answer your call in their native language, English, and French.

Stop Checks

 

It is important to note, in Russia stop and search vehcle checks are far more regular and far more random than in the UK and Europe, as such if you are pulled over during your visit it isn’t anything to worry about, and doesn’t mean it is a result of your driving, just make sure you have your documentation ready including passports and migration cards. Basic Russian translations of your drivers licence are also advised as many police will not speak English. It may also be advisable to have some basic Russian phrases noted down in case of this instance.