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Most foreign tourists chose traveling by car to reach Romania. Romanians like their steering wheel on the left as most other Europeans and European licences are recognized and valid.
Americans can easily rent a car with their passport and their US licence.
Most of the highways (not really highways, actually; in Romanian they're called either "drum european" - european road - or "drum national" - national road; a highway is called "autostrada") have a mere two or four lanes. National and european roads are in the best shape, with county roads coming a distant second. That's if we exclude the two highways (actually, one bad highway and another - quality - half a highway).
The one and a half highways I've mentioned are:
- Bucharest - Pitesti - operational but in bad shape; renovation works are underway;
- Bucharest - Constanta, also known as the "Sun's Highway" ("Autostrada Soarelui") ; only the Bucharest - Cernavoda part is operational so far; the works on the Cernavoda - Constanta part and the Constanta beltway should start in 2007 and finish by 2010.
There are a couple of other projects of highways either under construction or for which work should start very soon:
- Brasov - Bors; work is underway near Cluj-Napoca on this one; 415 kilometres long; links Brasov with the Hungarian border and Romania with the European networks of highways; it should be fully operational by 2013 but chunks of it should be usable at earlier dates;
- Bucharest - Brasov; don't know where things are with this one; work should probably start in the very near future;
- Bucharest - Timisoara - Arad through the south of the country (also known as the 4th paneuropean corridor linking Constanta, Black Sea's largest harbour, with the Western border) - this will be mostly financed from European funds and work should kick off in or after 2007;
- Bucharest's beltway.
Don't count on Romanian drivers to respect traffic rules; they're quite temperamental and have an aggressive driving style. Goes for both intercity and intracity traffic. You may have to endure some severe honking if you're too cautious and drive slowly but it is better this way rather than risk a severe accident.
Bucharest is by far the worst city when it comes to traffic. If you think Romanian drivers are nuts, double or triple that insanity and you've got Bucharest drivers. You'd be better off walking, taking a cab or using the subway in Bucharest.
Speed limits are set at 50 km/h in cities, towns, villages and 90 km/h outside of urban and rural settlements. On highway the limit is set at 130 km/h. Romanians are helpful folks and they'll usually flash their lights at you if they come from the opposite direction and have just passed a radar.