Road rules are designed to help keep people safe as they travel around, while also ensuring a steady and organised flow of traffic. It helps keep things organised and prevents chaos and mayhem on the streets.
However, not all countries implement such road rules equally.
As car insurance experts, we were interested in trying to find which country had the ‘strictest’ road rules. We took a look at 17 countries across the world, focusing on blood alcohol limits, speed limits, mobile phone restrictions and seatbelt requirements.
Join us as we take a look at the data.
Note: this isn’t a measure of how strict Police and Governments are in terms of fines and enforcement, but how much room drivers have before they break the law.
Norway was ranked as the strictest country on our list, with a total score of 7.09/10 on our index. The country has a relatively low blood alcohol limit of 0.02BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration), lower speed limits on urban streets and rural roads (30km/h for residential areas and 80km/h on country roads), and mandatory seatbelt requirements.
The Scandinavian country offers beautiful scenic drives, but it is important to drive to the conditions. Studded tyres and snow chains are required during the winter months, and all cars must always have the headlights turned on regardless of the time of day.1
Second on our list of strict countries for road rules is France, which scored 5.94/10. While France has a higher blood alcohol limit than Norway at 0.05BAC and higher residential speed limit of 50km/h, France has the strictest rules regarding mobile phones. No driver is allowed to use their mobile phone, even with a hands-free setting!
The French Government also requires all drivers to have a high-visibility jacket in the car, and a breathalyser to test blood alcohol limits.2
Tying in third place was Colombia and Denmark, who both scored 5.84/10. Colombia’s lower highway speed limit of 100km/h and low blood alcohol limit of 0.02BAC helped offset the fact that seatbelts are required, but not strictly enforced. In Denmark, drivers can use a mobile phone handsfree, but only if it is using a system built into the car. Having phone-holder attachments to take calls hands free is not allowed, and this helped push Denmark into the top three for strictest road rules.
The table below shows the data and indexed score for all 17 countries.
|Country||Blood alcohol limit (BAC)||Highway speed limit (km/h)||Residential speed limit (km/h)||Rural speed limit (km/h)||Hands-free mobile phone use allowed?||Seatbelt requirements||Index score|
|France||0.05||130||50||80||No||Mandatory (with exemptions)||5.94|
|Colombia||0.02||100||50||80||Yes||Required but not enforced||5.84|
|Denmark||0.05||130||50||80||Yes with restrictions||Mandatory (with exemptions)||5.84|
|Germany||0.05||100||50||100||Yes||Mandatory (with exemptions)||4.79|
|Canada||0.04||120||30||100||Yes||Mandatory (with exemptions)||4.69|
|Brazil||0.00||120||60||80||Yes||Required but not enforced||4.38|
|Hungary||0.00||130||50||90||Yes||Mandatory (with exemptions)||4.38|
|Spain||0.05||120||50||100||Yes||Mandatory (with exemptions)||4.07|
|South Africa||0.05||120||60||100||Yes||Mandatory (with exemptions)||3.13|
The USA (3.54) was the second-least strict, following behind South Africa (3.13) but ahead of Chile (4.06). The United States were ranked so low due to having the highest blood alcohol limit of 0.08BAC (the same amount as the UK and Mexico), and some high-speed limits for highways and country roads. Chile was ranked slightly stricter than the USA due to having a lower alcohol limit (0.03BAC vs 0.08BAC in America), and a slightly lower rural road speed limit.
South Africa was considered the least strict country on the index, largely based on having higher speed limits for highways, residential areas and rural roads, despite having lower BAC limits than the US. Also, while seatbelts are mandatory for drivers and passengers, there were more exemptions (such as making regular stops for deliveries or driving a minivan that weighed less than 2.5tonnes).7