Road rules in Italy

Road rules in Italy

by Stripes Staff
Stripes Europe

Living in Italy or plan to drive through the country soon? Here are key rules you need to know. 


Do not talk on your cellphone while driving, except with a hands-free device. 


Infants up to 1 year of age and up to 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, which cannot be placed in front of an airbag. Children over the age of 1, up to 50 pounds or 48 inches must be placed in appropriate child passenger restraint systems used in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. Rear-facing seats are strongly advised for children up to age 4 or when a child reaches the maximum weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Ages 12 years and under must ride in the back seat unless all seats are occupied by other children or the vehicle has no rear seat. For more on child safety, see the European Child Safety article on page 13. 


Your vehicle must contain an EC-regulation warning triangle, reflective vest/jacket and first-aid kit. 


A blood alcohol level of 0.05 is over the limit and against the law. The limit for new drivers and commercial vehicle operators is 0.0. Even if you are under the legal limit, if you are in an auto accident after drinking, you may be found at fault, whether you actually caused the wreck or not. 


Service members stationed in Italy qualify to purchase fuel coupons for 300 to 400 liters monthly, depending on the sizes and types of vehicles registered. 


City centers around congested historic sites, such as in Pisa, Milan, Florence and other locations, now enforce restricted driving zones for only cars with permits. Although restricted areas should be marked with signs stating “ZTL” (meaning “Zona Traffico Limitato”/Limited Traffic Zone), signage may be obscured. License plates are read via camera, and drivers can rack up tickets while circling in restricted zones until several tickets come in the mail. 


There are a few important Italian words you are likely to see on road signs while traveling in Italy. 

• “Deviazion” – Detour 

• “Dogana” – Customs 

• “Entrata” – Entrance 

• “Incidente” – Accident 

• “Nebbia” – Fog 

• “Neve” – Snow 

• “Polizia” – Police 

• “Senso Unico” – One-way street 

• “Traffico” – Traffic (congestion) 

• “Uscita” – Exit 


For private vehicles without trailers in a city or built-up area: 50 km/h (31mph); outside a built-up area on an open road: 90 km/h (55 mph); on a two-lane highway: 110 km/h (68 mph); on a motorway or “autostrada:” 130 km/h (80 mph). During wet conditions, lower speed limits of 90 km/h (55 mph) apply to two-lane highways and 110 km/h (68 mph) on the autostrada. Drivers with a license less than 3 years old must not exceed 90 km/h (55 mph) outside built-up areas and 110 km/h (68 mph) on motorways. Be aware that in addition to fines, you face a 30- to 90-day suspension of your license for excessive speeding. 


Drivers must pay tolls to use freeways. 


Winter tire procedures vary by region. In mountainous areas, they are usually required from Nov. 15 to March 15 or April 15. Watch for signs indicating requirements. 


The minimum driving age is 18. Service members and dependents stationed in Germany must have valid Armed Forces in Italy (AFI) driver’s licenses (sometimes referred to as SETAF licenses), valid U.S. driver’s licenses, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. The AFI license is valid only in NATO countries. If you are not stationed in Italy but traveling within the country, you should also carry an international driving permit. 

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