Road Conditions: Driving a car in Russia
Russian roads can be an entirely new subject for a foreigner. Let's talk about some main problems on Russian roads that may affect a traveller who comes to Russia.
The severe climate of Russia makes Russian road conditions extremely hazardous. Everything depends on the time of the year. In autumn and winter the roads are severely damaged by rains, snow and frost. In spring they are being repaired. And summer is the only time of the year when their quality of the pavement improves to some extent. However, roads create a constant problem in Russia and make driving a car basically a stressful experience. Financing of Russian roads is pretty poor too – there are very few toll roads, which could improve financing, and probably too much corruption in the government.
Traffic Jams in Moscow
Traffic jams are a very common phenomenon in Moscow. Moscow is generally overpopulated. However, streets of this city are mostly one-way or two-way which is not enough for the excessive traffic flow.
The streets of Moscow start “jamming” at approximately 7 or 8 a.m. During busy working days driving a car is almost impossible, because jams can last all day and the streets clear up by 8 or even 11 p.m. You can spend up to 2 hours waiting in a traffic jam in the morning. So, if you are planning to travel to Moscow and you have an important business meeting in the morning, make sure to leave at least 2-3 hours before your meeting. Also keep in mind that some weather conditions, like black ice and snow, may also affect your driving speed.
This situations with traffic jams in Moscow made many big companies open new offices in Moscow suburbs where their workers can easily avoid traffic. It also made many workers leave their cars at home and travel to work by subway (Moscow Metro). There are sites our there in the Russian network (.ru) that provide timely reports about traffic jams on the roads of the Russian capital and other major cities.
This road sign signifies highway (freeway) in Russia, and it is not quite a common thing to see one of those. The thing is that there are quite few high-speed highways in this country: just some around Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. There other big roads which link the Central part of Russia with other major regions, like the Caucasus, the Urals, Siberia, ets. However, as of today, even the Russian Railway system is more developed than Russian motorways.
Roads in Russia are different from roads in European and well-developed countries, and this situation may surprise a foreigner who comes there for a vacation, decides to rent a car and drive around. There are many factors that make road improvement a difficult task in this country. They are extreme and severe weather conditions; corruption and bribery of Russian officials; and delayed development of Russian highways. Poor traveling conditions is one of the reasons why many tourists prefer going by trains and planes than driving a car on Russian roads. However, if you still decide to rent a car and have a road trip, you will most likely need a companion who speaks Russian to assist you in any situation on the road. Also read our article about Renting a Car at Russian car rental places.