A translated international drivers license is required to drive in Russia. A national driver's license might be advisable as well.
Rules. Most international rules apply. The official speed limits are 60 kph/37 mph in the city, 90 kph/56 mph in unpopulated areas and 120 kph/72 mph on open highways.
At intersections, the vehicle on the right has the right of way. At traffic lights you cannot turn right on red. Do not block intersections. The blue and white traffic arrows over the lanes of major thoroughfares indicate turns and no-turns; observe carefully.
To turn left, you must often turn right first, make a U-turn and go back across the intersection. Parking lights are required from dusk to dawn, but full headlights are not usually used at night. Lights are flashed to warn other cars and pedestrians. Horns are not permitted except in emergencies. Wear your seat belt; it is the law!
Driving Conditions. City roads contain many unmarked hazards: pot holes, missing manhole covers, excavations and more. Trolley tracks are especially treacherous. Night driving in the city in winter with poor street lighting and dirty windshields is only for the experienced.
Russian city drivers are amazingly skillful and have become more courteous in recent years. Many, however, drive very fast and take incredible risks, especially when passing on the open highways. If you have a driver, don't let him take these risks. Always drive defensively.
Traffic Police. All traffic officers (GIBDD) wear either gray or dark blue uniforms and carry black and white batons which they wave at you to signify that you should pull over. If a traffic officer signals to you, best obey. For minor violations such as a missing tail light or an illegal turn, they can collect a small fine immediately. It is easiest to pay on the spot, but they should give you a receipt. With serious violations, they take your license on the spot, forcing you to retrieve it at the GIBDD. Warning, occasionally unscrupulous GIBDD whistle over law-abiding foreigners and accuse them of violations for the purpose of a shakedown.
Drunk driving is severely punished. If such a violation is alleged, get a good lawyer immediately.
Accidents and Insurance. Be sure to have auto insurance coverage in Russia. Look under INSURANCE.
In case of an accident, do not move the involved cars until the traffic police arrive and measure everything. It can take several hours for them to arrive, so Russians often work things out between themselves. Sign nothing without consulting a lawyer. For towing, see AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS ; for repairs see AUTOMOBILE PARTS , and AUTOMOBILE SERVICE AND REPAIRS .
Parking Precautions. Theft of windshield wipers, radios, wheels and entire cars is frequent. Try to park in watched PARKING LOTS around hotels or on well-traveled streets. Many Russian have installed AUTOMOBILE ALARMS and still regularly remove their windshield wipers.
Gas, Petrol, Lubricants, Tires, Auto Parts. A reasonable supply is available even for imported cars. See GAS STATIONS (PETROL STATIONS, AUTOMOTIVE FUELS), AUTOMOBILE PARTS and TIRES ANF TIRE REPAIR.
Street names and signs. Street names are written in Russian on the walls of buildings at intersections. Because of the recent changes in street names, many signs do not correspond to the new street names. Major highways are marked by blue and white route numbers. For example the highway to Moscow is M10. Try to learn the Cyrillic alphabet if you plan to drive. Our Traveller's Yellow Pages City Map for Moscow has both English and Russian street indices to help you find your way and shows all streets in the central part of the city. See also ADDRESSES, FINDING .
For auto route maps of the surrounding regions, see MAPS & MAP SHOPS.