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Tips for driving in Polish cities

djf 18 | 166  
19 Mar 2008 /  #1
Will be in Wroclaw again in April and this time hiring a car. I have never driven outside of the UK and so this is going to be fun and stressful! Must remember to drive on the wrong side of the road, GTA style!

Any tips on driving a car in a Polish city?
isthatu 3 | 1,164  
19 Mar 2008 /  #2
Make sure its an armourd car,preferably of the BMP BTR variaty or failing that a nice little T34 should see you safely through the traffic :)
Wroclaw 44 | 5,384  
19 Mar 2008 /  #3
Will be in Wroclaw again in April and this time hiring a car.

Friday is not a Good day for cars in Wroclaw. I think it's because of students going home for the weekend. Mornings 8 - 10am not good. 2 - 4pm not good.

There are constant roadworks in Wroclaw and sometimes you will find that a road that was open yesterday is closed today.

In the city be careful with people changing lanes.

Plan your route and you'll be OK.

Most important. Be on the lookout for trams. If you hit one it will be your fault [usually] And make sure you stop, if you are in the inside lane and the tram stops at a tram stop,
Wroclaw Boy  
19 Mar 2008 /  #4
Show no mercy, barge your way in and out of lanes "if you cant beat them join them" and definantly watch out for trams.

Always be prepared to stop for pedestrian crossings after any traffic lights turn green especially if your making a turn
If a tram stops in front of you for no apparent reason hes probably stopping for passengers, you must stop before the zig zag lines and wait for passengers do get off/on

Be carefull of cross junctions - right of way is extremely confusing
If you see a pot hole avoid the urge to swerve, just hit it, its only a hired car
Be on the look out for road works as Wroclaw suggested, there is usually no warnings till your right on top of it

Oh yes and you can legally drive on the tram lines.
Foreigner4 12 | 1,768  
19 Mar 2008 /  #5
planning your route only works up to a point as some streets are marked and some aren't and sometimes it's just bloody impossible to even see the name until it's too late. Plan on getting lost, accept it and let nothing fluster you.
Hiro - | 33  
19 Mar 2008 /  #6
Any tips on driving a car in a Polish city?

hire a chauffeur :)
wildrover 98 | 4,451  
19 Mar 2008 /  #7
Any tips on driving a car in a Polish city?

If you have no experiance of driving on the other side of the road , then i advise you avoid the cities....I am a brit who has driven a lot in Poland and other countries , and now work as a truck driver in Poland....I still find myself being very carefull in cities , and now and then getting confused as to who gives way to who , and what lane i need to be in.....Someone with no experiance of driving on the right would have a real problem i think.......I think you ought to have a play in a small town before you do battle with the Polish city dwellers.....
24 Mar 2008 /  #8
Well!!! We visited Krakow for a week....The driving was so bad and frightening. They dont seem to care about other road users we were constantly amazed how they ever survive on the roads. Even crossing the crosswalks was funny,it was run or be run over... They pull out when ever and park where and how ever.Going down to Zakopane was scarey,the roads are rough and people speed everwhere. They explained to us about why the roads arent that great,which made us feel no better...People overtake on bends and blindspots... Hey mayby that was just our tour guides hahaha.... We had alot of fun, but were so glad we didnt drive.. We're Australians and people think we're bad on the road.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,161  
24 Mar 2008 /  #9
The driving was so bad and frightening.

That's because roads aren't wide enough.
24 Mar 2008 /  #10
Yeah i know.. I shouldnt try to compare it to back here it was unfare..Overall it was alot of fun...
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
29 Aug 2008 /  #11
This might strike a cord with drivers

Czarne Oczy 14 | 64  
29 Aug 2008 /  #12
if someone passes you going 200 in a beamer....*ahem...which wouldn't be us....*..just let them go:P

UWAGA: fotoradar! be careful, we saw a few people get pictured. they are little grey boxes.
sobieski 107 | 2,128  
29 Aug 2008 /  #13
I am driving 20.000 kms per year in and around Warsaw (mainly to/from work) and driving here is not fo the faint-hearted for sure :). You have to go with the flow and forget - to bad but it is true - the basic politeness on the road you have learnt at home. Especially roundabouts are very thrilling, I have until now not met a lot of Poles who really know (or care) how they are working.

What Poles have in common with a lot of West Europeans is, when you drive a Mercedes or BMW or a bg Audi, this makes that any kind of traffic regulation is not made for you..

Although I think there is gradually some improvement, if only because of the steadily growing number of "photoradars" as the Poles call them :) Every week on my work I see another new one standing somewhere.
dnz 17 | 710  
29 Aug 2008 /  #14
Keep your toe to the floor, Pull away quickly spinning the wheels erratically, show no respect to other road users or pedestrians, Try to lose control of you vehicle in random places blocking the entire road for hours. You must also never indicate and weave in and out of the traffic wherever possible and also brake randomly for no reason,

Follow these tips and you will fit in perfectly and look like a native Pole :D
Foreigner4 12 | 1,768  
30 Aug 2008 /  #15
that was spot on dnz! well done!
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
30 Aug 2008 /  #16
Tip 234- The over taking lane does not exist, it is just another lane for you to go the same speed as the car next to you.

Tip 235- Drive up the rear of the car in front of you.

Tip 236- Just before coming in to two lanes, over take on the blind corner.

Tip 237- Turn THEN indicate.

Tip 238- Straight is great but bend is trendy, swerve in and out as much as possible.

Tip 239- If in a city be sure to accelerate like a lunatic and skid around corners.

Tip 240- Be nice to Maluchs (they are just too cute).

Tip 241- Forget everything you learned about parallel parking.

Tip 242- Remember it is not actually a car it is a mobile telephone box, so talking on the phone is more important than steering or breaking or any of that other "driving" stuff.

Tip 243- Pedestrian? what pedestrians?.

Tip 244- The speed signs do not tell the truth (except 30). The way to work out how fast to go is multiply what the speed sign says by two and then subtract 20.

Tip 245- Police radars do not work in incredibly bad weather conditions, this just means drive at break neck speeds.

Tip 246- remember you are the only driver on the road, the only one that counts anyway.

I live near Krakow and work here and in Lithuania and for the past three and a half years I have been driving up and down.

This is me venting, I have never had the opertunity before to say these things, for this I thank PF, I will add more.
On a more serious note, I have tryed to rationalise why there are so many dangerous drivers in Poland. I have come up with a theory, Basically before (in communism and just after) you couldn't buy a new car, if you did get a car it was certainly not fast and you were certainly not able to get it at a young age, so my theory is that now that a lot of people, especially young people can purchase cars, they go mad, have fun and well.... drive like nutters.

Agreed that it is 2008 and things are different now but I will put it another way, Think about a country's average time on the road, as in driving experience, Poland has very little.

I know I am picking on Poland but I have massive problems with Irish drivers too, nameingly they can drive on the roads without having a full license but this is a Polish forum
dnz 17 | 710  
30 Aug 2008 /  #17
SeanBM, I think that is a very comprehensive list and is spot on!,

Just to add,

Remember that your accelerator and brake pedals are switches, IE on or off this enables your vehicle to be either accelerating erratically or braking erratically and nothing in between.

When parallel parking keep your engine revs above at least 6000 rpm (4000 rpm in a diesel) and slip the clutch, have 2 or 3 pathetic attempts at trying to fit in a space which is more than big enough and then simply give up, This is done by creating lots of tyre smoke to prove that you "really are skilled but just couldn't be bothered to park in the end"

Remember that the braking distances quoted in the highway code (or polish equivalent) are quoted in millimetres and not metres so bear this in mind when calculating your distance from the vehicle in front.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510  
30 Aug 2008 /  #18
tip 975 - do not show courtesy to other drivers. it is taken as a sign of weakness that will be exploited

tip 976 - do not stop for pedestrians waiting at zebra crossings. they will look at you as if you are some kind of devient wanting to mow them down as soon as they step out

tip 977 - try and get a polish licence if you can. it has 24 points on it that are yours to do as you please with. they will be renewed next year. make use of them

tip 978 - when cleaning your car at the car wash take as long as you like. dont let the short haired thug in a big 4x4 intimidate you with honks or bad looks.

tip 979 - if the maniac who has been trying to overtake you like a nutter finally gets in front of you, slams on his brakes and jumps out the car to have a go at you, pretend you cant hear him, becon him closer then open your door really quickly, smack him in the head and drive off promptly.

works every time

tip 980 - carry at least half a dozen eggs to hurl at idiots you encounter on the road. it relieves tension and will make you a safer driver

tip 981 - treat people with the respect they deserve. if they are driving like a kuhnt, treat them like a kuhnt. it will help restore a natural order to things and everyone will know where they stand
Foreigner4 12 | 1,768  
31 Aug 2008 /  #19
tip 982 - drive like a maniac when you see two lanes will merge into one. Get ahead of everyone then signal and slam on your brakes so you can make the first available left turn and force everyone you got ahead of to wait until you make your turn, preferable only a short distance after the two lanes merged into one.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510  
1 Sep 2008 /  #20
tip 999 - watch out for random weirdos pushing carts along the middle of what passes for motorways

tip 1000 - if you buy a car here, when you come to sell it add 25% of what you paid for it
dnz 17 | 710  
1 Sep 2008 /  #21
Remember if you have a polish license you have 24 points available, Try to use all of these up before the end of the year as you get new ones next year.

Points mean prizes :)

Remember to make sure you use winter tyres all year round as these make the best noise when spun at road junctions due to the softer compound. remember to use tyres until the canvas is showing as canvas gives the best grip on Polish roads.

Also if you feel that your wreck might not pass the technical check try using a bottle or so of zubrowka in order to obtain a clean bill of health for your aging 80's rusty shed.

The CB radio is used in order to broadcast the word "Kurwa" to other road users. this equipment must never be used for anything else. Also you must fit the longest Aeriel to the roof of your car. (i think this is so drivers can tap into the power lines for the trams)

When overtaking select the highest gear possible and pass as slowly as possible in the most dangerous of places. Remember high revs must only be used in towns where engine speed must be kept as close to the redline as possible. (there are no young orange bin rats on the open road to admire your skillz)
13 Nov 2008 /  #22
Does anyone have access to the official Poland Road Code? It would help me a lot. Let me know... thank you! Or even a website that has most of the rules would be equally as great. Thanks!
wildrover 98 | 4,451  
13 Nov 2008 /  #23
access to the official Poland Road Code? It would help me a lot

Ha...follow this and you will stand out a mile....if there is a driving code in Poland i suspect it is only read by drivers about to take the test , and ignored forever after passing it...much like the highway code in UK....
13 Nov 2008 /  #24
Yeah... I figured as much. I actually don't need it for actual driving reasons (thank goodness). I am simply doing research pertaining to worldwide traffic codes. So again, if anyone knows where I can find the official road rules for Poland - let me know :)

wildrover 98 | 4,451  
13 Nov 2008 /  #25
the official road rules for Poland

I suppose anyone who has just taken the test will have a copy...ask nicely..somebody will send you one....
13 Nov 2008 /  #26
hehe, kind of difficult... as I live in Canada. :S
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
24 Feb 2009 /  #27
Just don't drive this fast. Do you have hill climbs in Poland? I loved these as a kid.

I've been to this track a few times, these guys go balls out. I'd kill for a go at this. Nailing the throttle, hey yes!

My friend WB will like this kinda thing :)

Here WB, especially for you., short but sweet. The Westfield is an English motor I think.
24 Feb 2009 /  #28
Driving in Warsaw is for the brave and/or stupid: the average Varsovian driver has no patience at all, an unshakeable faith in his ability to drive like Steve McQueen, an almost complete disregard for the laws of road traffic and physics, and a talent for driving at high speed through gaps which are very slightly too narrow for his car. The biggest difficulty for novice drivers in Warsaw (apart from Varsovian drivers) is trams. Unless traffic lights are against them, trams always have right of way. They also have very bad brakes and can’t swerve to avoid you. Never overtake (or undertake) a tram which is stationary in the road at a passenger stop: there will be people getting on and off, they have right of way.

Most Polish roads were built for light local use only and are completely unsuitable for the volume (or weight) of today’s traffic. Very few roads have more than one lane in either direction, so the hard shoulder is used for overtaking. You will be expected to drive on the hard shoulder when somebody wants to overtake you. Seeing four cars side-by-side across a road with one lane in each direction is common, five or even six can be seen occasionally. Official estimates used to class more than 95% of road as being in need of immediate replacement (a problem cunningly solved by no longer releasing official estimates). Strangely enough, Poland leads the EU in both number of road traffic accidents and resulting deaths. Wearing seatbelts whenever they are fitted is a legal requirement and the only sane option.

Poland has strict blood alcohol limit: 0.2mg of alcohol per millilitre of blood, so even one beer can put you over the limit. Being caught at about 0.4mg/ml results in your car being confiscated, permanently. The speed limit is 50km/h in cities, 90km/h outside built-up

areas, 110km/h on dual carriageways and 130km/h on motorways. Your car must to carry a red warning triangle, first-aid kit, replacement bulbs and a national identity sticker. You must have your passport, car insurance and registration documents (originals not copies) and driving licence (if your licence is non-EU, an international permit is a good idea and you must obtain a Polish licence after being in Poland for six months). Foreigners must pay fines for any road traffic offences to police on the spot and in cash; offering bribes is now a bad idea. Headlights must switched on at all times year-round. Levels of car-related crime are falling but still high enough to make guarded car parks a good idea. Foreign license plates attract attention from both the police and thieves.

[Mods please note that I am the copyright holder of the above text and it is not available anywhere else on the internet.]
dnz 17 | 710  
24 Feb 2009 /  #29
Disregard the above, KMH means MPH and the closer you get to doubling it the better, Never drive unless you are totally hammered as this is an offence. Trams are a moving target so try to hit them as much as possible. Ignore traffic lights unless red as this gives you time to take a swig from your hip flask. Overtake wherever and whenever you like as you really do own the road! If you are travelling in a bmw (only e30 and e36 variants) you are required to drive in a manner which suggests you are wearing diving boots made of lead. Remember not talking on the phone or smoking while driving is an endorsable offence so make sure you are doing one or the other. Also winter tyres mean you can drive as fast as you like in any conditions so make sure you do this. If you see an english registered car you must race it of every set of lights (even if it has a v8 under the bonnet and you are driving a gas powered cinquicento)

Finally make sure your car is fitted with an exhaust the size of a waste paper basket and has badly painted mismatched panels so you fit it!

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