Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Romania, you will encounter road conditions that significantly differ from those in the United States. Traffic accidents are arguably the single most dangerous threat for U.S. citizens visiting Romania. The World Economic Forum ranks Romania 142 out of 144 states for road quality, with a limited number of freeways and infrequent passing lanes. While major streets in larger cities and major inter-city roads are generally in fair to good condition, many secondary roads are in poor repair, unpaved, badly lighted, narrow, and lacking marked lanes. According to the European Union Road Federation, Romania has the highest per vehicle rate of traffic fatalities of any country in the EU. It is essential to practice defensive driving techniques if you choose to drive in Romania.
Roads, especially in the mountains, can be particularly dangerous when wet or covered with snow or ice. Winter snow removal, even in cities and on major highways, can be intermittent. Pedestrians, animals, cyclists, and horse-drawn carts share many roads with motor vehicles and it can be extremely difficult to see, particularly at night in rural areas. Parked vehicles often block sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the streets. Maintain vigilance when driving to avoid hitting those who are walking in the streets. Cross the street only at crosswalks, and always look both ways before crossing. Crosswalks are generally poorly marked and may be ignored by drivers even if there is a traffic light.
Romanian traffic laws are very strict. The traffic police can confiscate any form of a driver's license or permit for 1-3 months and request payment of fines at the time of the infraction; this includes minor infractions such as failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Police are required to give all drivers involved in an accident breathalyzer tests on the scene. Refusal to take a breathalyzer test will result in criminal penalties regardless of whether or not alcohol was involved. Driving under the influence of alcohol or causing an accident resulting in injury or death may result in imprisonment.
U.S. driver's licenses are only valid in Romania for up to 90 days. Before the 90-day period has expired, U.S. citizens must either obtain an international driving permit in addition to their U.S. driver's license or a Romanian driver's license. Wearing a seat belt is mandatory. Children under 12 years of age may not be transported in the front seat.
Unless otherwise marked with road signs, speed limits are as follows:
Intercity traffic on highways
130 km/hr for cars and motorcycles (80 miles/hr)
110 km/hr for vans (65 miles/hr)
Urban traffic - 50 km/hr (30 miles/hr)
Express and European roads
100 km/hour for cars and motorcycles (60 miles/hr)
90 km/hour for vans (55 miles/hr)
All other roads
90 km/hr for cars and motorcycles (55 miles/hr)
80 km/hr for vans (50 miles/hr)
Motor vehicles with trailers, and drivers with less than one year of driving experience have speed limits 20 km/hr (or 12 miles/hr) slower than those listed above.The host country authority responsible for road safety is the Traffic Police of the Romanian Ministry of Interior. You can reach emergency roadside help and information for vehicle assistance and towing services by dialing 9271. For ambulance services, fire brigade, or police dial 112.
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