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Driving St Petersburg
Dealing with a car

Unless you plan to be in town for a long time the best advice about driving is not to do it. There are plenty of alternatives . However, if you are determined, driving in Petersburg can be accomplished though it will take a while to get good at it.

The Basics: To operate a motor vehicle in St. Petersburg you must have the following documents with you at all times:
Your home driver's license. In theory you will also need a notarized translation of it or an international driving permit from your home country with a Russian language insert, though this regulation usually gets overlooked; Your passport and visa (a photocopy won't cut it); Your car's registration certificate.

Speed limits are posted in red bordered circles (like US regulatory road signs). They are usually 60 km/h (37 mph) in the city and 90 km/h (50 mph) on highways. Traffic coming from the right has the right-of-way. There is no right-on-red law in St. Petersburg, and if you don't know what this is you probably come from a country where you drive on the other side of the road.

Safety. DUI is illegal and stringently enforced. A policeman who suspects you of having consumed even token amounts of booze will be hard to convince otherwise and he does have the right to impound your car and drivers license in the interests of safety.
Safety belt use is mandatory and highway patrol guys can use the lack of a seat belt as a reason for pulling you over.

Tel: +7 (812) 324-3242
Fax: +7 (812) 324-3240
Hertz homepage >>

Hazards Theft: The majority of auto-related criminal activity in St. Petersburg involves part theft or malicious damage rather than the theft of the entire vehicle, but the latter is by no means unknown. Lock the doors when you are out. Remove any valuables (and anything that might be considered valuable: sunglasses, jackets, radios) from your car when parking, even if it's only for a few minutes. Try to park your car in a guarded lot or where there are a lot of people around. There are a lot of thiefs working in the groups. One of them can start asking you about the directions, while the others can stole your belongings accessing the car through the right doors.

Accidents: If you're in an accident you are supposed to stop the car immediately and wait for the highway patrol to come. You can dial the police number 02 and describe the situation (in English or Russian). Since Jan 01 2004 all cars should carry liability insuarance. But don't expect that all drivers will have it.
Gasoline (Benzin) Gas stations are located all over the city. All stations are self service; pay before you pump (at Neste gas stations you can pay after pumping).
Gas prices are about the same as in U.S. Gas station offer A-76, A-92(unleaded), A-95(unleaded regular) and A-98(unleaded performance) grades. A-95 will fit most of Russian and importred cars. Gas stations open 24h and also sell food, oil, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze etc. The best choice is Neste

The highway patrol or GIBDD, the State Street Traffic Safety Inspectorate, has officers posted all around the city to enforce automobile regulations. They can stop you if they notice any violation of rules, inspect vehicles, and give you a ticket to be paid in 10 days in through the Sberbank (The Savings bank). Attempt to pay the bribe to the officer can result in inprisonment. But on the other hand the GIBDD officers are horribly underpaid and use their powers to stop motorists and extract fines for real or imagined violations, and foreign cars are their favorite target. Notice that they have the legal right to shoot at your vehicle if you fail to pull over. GIBDD officers wear a dark blue uniform with a distinctive silver shield on the left breast and carry a lit or striped baton. If an officer points his baton at you, you are to pull over right away. Remember that if you are an alien and do not speak Russian you have the right to ask the officer to call for the translator or to call for the special police department dealing with aliens.

Highway patrol official web site