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Driving in Poland, are there any rules at all?


Patrick35 1 | 17
15 Feb 2012  #1
Hi Everyone!
I have been in Poland for 2 weeks now. I plan on renting a car, but have heard frightening stories about driving in Poland – bad roads, crazy drivers, auto thefts..

Is that really so? Could you give me some tips for driving in Poland?
And the last question…My UK driving license is acceptable here, isn’t it?

Patrick
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
15 Feb 2012  #2
Could you give me some tips for driving in Poland?

Just get out there and drive.

My advice would be to book a 2 hour lesson with a driving school beforehand, just to get clued up on some differences (such as the difference between the green arrows) and the priority rules - and also to get used to the Polish way of driving. You won't need more than that.
teflcat 5 | 1,032
15 Feb 2012  #3
Hi Patrick. I guess you are an American journalist who got his licence in the UK.
Don't worry about driving in Poland. Just take it easy and beware of anyone driving while wearing a hat. This may seem strange advice, but bear it in mind and it may save your life.
mafketis 19 | 6,890
15 Feb 2012  #4
"are there any rules at all?"

Basic rules of driving in Poland....

1. Figure out the fastest possible speed on a particular stretch of road, then go at least 2 kph faster

2. Only look straight ahead (never look behind you or to the sides)

3. Faith in god and pedal to the metal!

4. The various colors of lights are only suggestions, which you should feel free to ignore.

5. Ambulance, shmambulance, why should they have priority?

6. People who walk are inferior to people in cars

That about covers it.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,099
15 Feb 2012  #5
Could you give me some tips for driving in Poland?

Don't stop the car before zebra crossing suddenly. 99% pedestrians are used to wait
even that they have a right of way. Use common sense. We have heavy traffic jams
and pedestrians wait until street pour in and stream stops.
pam
15 Feb 2012  #6
beware of anyone driving while wearing a hat

dlaczego?i often drive with a hat on because its cold in my car before heater kicks in!
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
15 Feb 2012  #7
1. Figure out the fastest possible speed on a particular stretch of road, then go at least 2 kph faster

Example in Poznan : Hetmanska, between Rondo Staroleka and the McDonalds/BP garage. I always drive along there at 80km/h (70 limit) - and without fail, someone will be tailgating - who will then pass in a dangerous move and speed off. Insane.
SeanBM 35 | 5,809
15 Feb 2012  #8
bad roads, crazy drivers, auto thefts..

I don't think car theft is such a problem anymore, since they changed the law and it became "Organised crime" which carries much heavier penalties.

The roads are continueing to be improved with E.U. money but there is still a ways to go yet.

I find the main problem is bad drivers, drivers over taking me when I stop at a zebra crossing, that has happened a few times.... scary stuff

I believe a horrific advertisment campaign on T.V. would do the world of good.

You'll be grand and remember it's not a race, it's a mode of transport.

I always drive along there at 80km/h (70 limit)

1. Figure out the fastest possible speed on a particular stretch of road, then go at least 2 kph faster

The speed limits are too slow here. When I go to Ireland, I am supprised at the higher speed limit.
Also why don't they have pedestrain bridges or tunnels on bigger roads?
teflcat 5 | 1,032
15 Feb 2012  #9
dlaczego?i often drive with a hat on because its cold in my car before heater kicks in!

Me too, but I know that you know what I mean! Especially those old guys in pristine garaged £adas and Polonezes

Don't stop the car before zebra crossing suddenly. 99% pedestrians are used to wait

Be very careful when approaching crossings when the road is icy. Pedestrians who don't drive are unaware of stopping distances, and they often think that you are slowing down to let them cross.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
15 Feb 2012  #10
The speed limits are too slow here. When I go to Ireland, I am supprised at the higher speed limit.

You think? I like the speed limits in Poland, except the 90km/h limit on rural roads when some could easily be 100km/h. There's one spot on the road between Poznan and Kostrzyn where you can easily do 120km/h on a 90km/h bit of road - it's long, straight and absolutely empty.

Can't complain about the 140km/h motorway limit though, nor the 120km/h expressway limit.
wildrover 98 | 4,455
16 Feb 2012  #11
Be very careful when approaching crossings when the road is icy. Pedestrians who don't drive are unaware of stopping distances, and they often think that you are slowing down to let them cross.

When i first came to Poland , i always stopped to let people cross the road on a crossing...

Their reaction was a look of amazement , and they seemed very reluctant to cross the road untill i had driven off...

This is probably due to Polish drivers overtaking any English drivers silly enough to stop at a crossing....

Now i just ignore people stood at crossings , in the same way Polish drivers do...

Please note....Its frowned upon to run anyone over if they are actually on the crossing...
pantsless 1 | 267
16 Feb 2012  #12
Could you give me some tips for driving in Poland?

Actually driving in Poland can be quite fun. Sometimes maddening, but the general "wildness" of it still keeps Poland interesting. Some of the roads are quite demanding.

Driving in Poland requires always paying attention to your surroundings, to be always on edge and react at a moments notice. Do not expect to "cruise" on the highway or "calmly pass through" a city center. Every second you need to be aware of what is going on. Every second. People can and will stumble onto the road. Dogs. A bus will suddenly pull into your lane. You'll have drivers overtaking you on the left and right and see near misses of head-on collisions.

If you dont know what youre doing just drive in the right lane. Driving slowly in the left lane is asking for trouble.

Drive with the flow, not against it. Driving in Poland is a race.

If you are the first one at the lights and it turns green it's expected for you to floor it, even if the next light 100m down the road is still red. Starting slowly or stopping slowly enrages many drivers.

What others said about the pedestrian situation and it's not a joke. Do not suddenly come to a stop to let them cross the street, you will probably get rear-ended.

Many roads are now in great shape in PL. However, many cities, still have certain sections have potholes big enough to seriously damage your suspension.

Many roads are quite illogical. Many signs are illogical. If you have GPS, always use it (never leave it in the car though).

A yellow diamond means you have the right of way at an intersection. If its crossed out by a black line, it means you dont. An upside down triangle means you don't have the right of way. If its crossed out with a black line, it means you do.

Trams always have the right of way.

If there is an intersection and there are no signs, the person on the right has the right of way. However, do not expect people to slowly approach an intersection. If they have the right of way they will roar through it.

Not all roundabouts give the right of way to those already on it.

Be aware of two lane roundabouts, sometimes the inner lane can also exit the roundabout.

Expect people to overtake you, dangerously, no matter how fast you are driving.

The speed limit in towns/cities or any "populated area" is 50kmh. However, no one drives that slow. If youre driving on a "national road" and you enter a populated area (marked by a white sign with a black outline of a city) you should slow down to 60kmh or so, be aware of cops using radar guns.

Tailgating, or sitting one meter behind somesone bumper is considered normal. Dont get annoyed at that.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,099
16 Feb 2012  #13
This is probably due to Polish drivers overtaking any English drivers silly enough to stop at a crossing

Most dangerous scenario is when there is jam, all three lanes run slowly eg 40km/h and someone
on the left/right lane decide to stop to let people cross. Drivers in the middle lane think that it is because of jam or red light for turn left.

Drive with the flow

Do what the others do. Don't waste the road when in jam. Everyone wants to jump behind another traffic light.
Not all cities have such nice flow control system like Gdansk or Gdynia some (Olsztyn) have stupid and malicious ;)
pam
16 Feb 2012  #14
very slightly off topic, but am i right in thinking you can get fined in poland for crossing the road(jaywalking) without stopping at a zebra crossing? thats if you havent already been run over by mad polish drivers who wont ever stop at a crossing anyway...
Harry
16 Feb 2012  #16
am i right in thinking you can get fined in poland for crossing the road(jaywalking) without stopping at a zebra crossing

I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean crossing when the little man is red?
OP Patrick35 1 | 17
16 Feb 2012  #17
Have to admit – I had fun reading all that stuff. And don’t know if that’s a good thing. There is a lot of irony in what you say, isn’t it? At least I hope so.

Anyway, as you suggest, I am gonna watch out for drivers in hats, for people who appear on every corner, only in order to then ignore them , I won’t mind any speed limits, lights or in fact anything that is supposed to regulate the traffic. Nice.

I am not afraid any more. It's gonna be fun. It's gonna be an adventure.Thanks a lot for all your help
scottie1113 7 | 898
16 Feb 2012  #18
I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean crossing when the little man is red?

Maybe, but jaywalking is crossing a road where there's no crosswalk (zebra crossing).
Harry
16 Feb 2012  #19
In Poland it is not crossing at a zebra crossing when you are within a certain distance of one.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,099
16 Feb 2012  #20
am i right in thinking you can get fined in poland for crossing the road(jaywalking) without stopping at a zebra crossing?

you mean intrusion? yes
additionally one can get a face massage.
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769
16 Feb 2012  #21
pantsless

the correct of this man's post cannot be overtaken.
delphiandomine 84 | 17,703
17 Feb 2012  #22
Actually driving in Poland can be quite fun. Sometimes maddening, but the general "wildness" of it still keeps Poland interesting. Some of the roads are quite demanding.

Pretty much. It's never dull to drive in, unlike the tedious nightmare that is driving through Slovakia.

It's worth pointing out that such behaviour like crossing solid lines between lanes, overtaking in no-overtaking zones and so on is rarely, if ever punished.

I was driving home one night about 2am, sitting at about 90km/h (bang on the limit) when some guy overtook me. Fine and well - but this was on a bloody crossroads at the time!
pam
17 Feb 2012  #23
jaywalking is crossing a road where there's no crosswalk (zebra crossing).

this is what i meant!
Sasha 2 | 1,083
17 Feb 2012  #25
. I always drive along there at 80km/h (70 limit) - and without fail, someone will be tailgating - who will then pass in a dangerous move and speed off. Insane.

Welcome to the Slavic World! :) I wonder if that some sort of a gene that makes many many Slavs behave that way or this is just lack of culture (of driving in this particular case). Whatever the Poles try to position themselves (we're schlyachta you're the peasantry) in most of situations I recognize the Russians/the Ukrainians.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
17 Feb 2012  #26
A yellow diamond means you have the right of way at an intersection. If its crossed out by a black line, it means you dont. An upside down triangle means you don't have the right of way. If its crossed out with a black line, it means you do.

OMG! Things have changed since the PRL days! LOL
Wulkan - | 3,255
17 Feb 2012  #27
are there any rules at all?

No, there is no traffic rules in Poland, driving looks just about like in India.

youtube.com/watch?v=RjrEQaG5jPM
grubas 12 | 1,392
17 Feb 2012  #28
driving looks just about like in India.

They seem to be doing all right,and have better roads than Poland.
Wulkan - | 3,255
17 Feb 2012  #29
well yea I said just about, not the same...
pawian 154 | 8,546
17 Feb 2012  #30
Driving in Poland, are there any rules at all? I have been in Poland for 2 weeks now. I plan on renting a car, but have heard frightening stories about driving in Poland - bad roads, crazy drivers, auto thefts..

You have been in Poland for 2 weeks and you haven`t seen a road and cars on it??? :):):):)

Where have they kept you that you were so perfectly isolated? Prison? Asylum?


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