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Is it safe to drive in Poland?


SafeDriver
2 Jun 2019 #1
I was born in Poland but moved abroad while a teenager, so I've never really driven a car in Poland. I've never driven a stick-shift car either (only automatic). If I move to Poland, would it be difficult for me to adjust to driving? Are Polish drivers aggressive and impatient in general? I've heard stories about bad drivers, but in reality nobody is perfect one either.

What I'm worried about is that I'm "too safe" and tend to think twice before making a move. Would I be horned at a lot for being too careful?

Besides, when I move to a countryside, I remember there were big trees on each side of the road and the roads only had one line so cars taking over each other was common and very dangerous. Drivers were getting killed when they hit the trees. Is it still the case?

Nowadays there are many designated highways, but is it possible for drivers (who fell asleep for example) to steer away to the other side of the highway to head-on other cars? That was possible in the past (for semi-tracks and buses too). Maybe they have barriers now to prevent that and to increase security?
mafketis 37 | 10,929
2 Jun 2019 #2
@SafeDriver

Are you in the US? I was trained in the US and have never wanted to drive in Poland because of the very different driving culture. Defensive driving is pretty much a no go. It's all rules and how can you break them and how fast can you go? Then go even faster!

Public transport (occasionally augmented by taxis) are a much better option.
OP SafeDriver
2 Jun 2019 #3
Yes, I've lived most of my life in the US (besides another European country). Years ago when I was in Poland, I had a lot of opportunities to drive (my family members had cars), but I just couldn't take the risk. It sort of reminded me visits to countries like Mexico where driving decisive and fast was a way to go.
Nathans
2 Jun 2019 #4
I can also recall driving through a Polish highway and thinking to myself that it was possible for the upcoming cars to just change the lane and create direct head-on collision because there were no dividing barriers between the roads. Hmm.. maybe these highways haven't been completed yet.
Dougpol1 30 | 2,567
3 Jun 2019 #5
I've never driven a stick-shift car either (only automatic). If I move to Poland, would it be difficult for me to adjust to driving?

Blimey SafrDriver - that's a lot of questions there!:)
Yes, automatics are not ideal in Poland by any means.Because drivers are prone to doing unpredictable (aka stupid) things, you sometimes need to step on the gas to get yourself out of the way - a manual gearbox/shift stick helps with this instant response obviously.

Are Polish drivers aggressive and impatient in general?

Both. Always a mystery to me. 2 minutes later, in the petrol station, thay are all smiles and charm - The Disney character who drives must have been based on them.

Would you be horned at for being indecisive? This is what really fukks me off. Yes you certainly will - and when they are the culprits, they are inconsiderate, and will not react (stubborn as mules)

If you are worried about head on smashes - well - the motorways have barriers - but I read somewhere (hard to believe, and probably untrue) that more people get killed on Polish motorways than by collisions elsewhere. As to the fast roads with no barriers - you drink and play with guns don't you:) I mean - everything has its' risks, and you can't stay at home.

Just drive defensively, as you were trained to do, and if you are staying here for any length of time, then you will get the hang of it. If you drive within the speed limits (but much slower!) then you will have adequate reaction time and also will not meet the traffic cops.

Nothing to be afraid of. Enoy your driving!

One more thing - Poles love to cut you up - to overtake and grab the space between you and the car in front. Do not react to this. Let the idiots go ahead, and consider yourself superior to them, and stay safe.
mafketis 37 | 10,929
3 Jun 2019 #6
Are Polish drivers aggressive and impatient in general?

What struck me in the 1990s was just how stressful driving was physically for the driver.. I remember more than once ending up with a tension headache because the driver just seemed to be a bunch of raw nerves the entire time...

Or course I've been in the car with lots of safe drivers too, but angry, impatient stressed out make up a much higher percentage than in the US... and of course the process for getting a license used to be very corrupt and so there were drivers who'd bought their licenses and barely knew the first thing about road safety...

. Would I be horned at a lot for being too careful?

Maybe more than in the US but nowhere near as much as in Romania (Bucharest is a never ending medley of different car horns).

.Because drivers are prone to doing unpredictable (aka stupid) things

A former colleague from Scotland described their adaptation: I just always expect the worst possible behavior from other drivers... and I'm usually not wrong.
Dougpol1 30 | 2,567
3 Jun 2019 #7
What struck me in the 1990s was just how stressful driving was

Just driving to the supermarket is stressful in Poland. There is a always a dork just around the corner. More road cameras are needed, to concentrate the mind against idiocy.
johnny reb 50 | 7,224
3 Jun 2019 #8
More road cameras are needed,

We have dash cams here in the U.S. that are available for under a $100.
Poland maybe should start installing them in their cars to catch people driving recklessly and flipping off courteous drivers.
Make the fines hefty enough to make reckless drivers think twice before they break the law.
You are right though Doug, road camera's are very effective.
Nathans
3 Jun 2019 #9
I'm not a believer in road cameras which have been polluting Polish roads for years now. They are overreach of the government. What comes next - Alexa pre-installed in your car (actually, that's already happens with new cars where they are required to record everything up to a couple of minutes before the crash).
Lyzko 42 | 9,497
3 Jun 2019 #10
Is then national safety an "overreach" of the government?
You're a Republican at heart, I can tell just by your brief post; you'd ideally like limited government aka a caretaker administration which allows citizens to do as they wish (a la Ronald Reagan), if certain folks are dissatisfied, well, that's life!

Am I right so far, Nathans?
Nathans
3 Jun 2019 #11
My position is - if a cop in Poland wants to issue a speeding ticket, his JOB is to catch the speeding driver. Using technology that does the job 100% is a form of new taxation (similar to being forced to pay for health insurance or other services). The next step is giving fines for just considering to violate the laws.
johnny reb 50 | 7,224
3 Jun 2019 #12
Actually new cars can record your location, how fast you are driving, how hard you brake, how much gas you put in your car, how many miles you have driven, all which some day your car insurance company will have access to in order to determine how much to charge you for your insurance and have reason to cancel your policy or give you a discount for your safe driving.

Poland is no different then any other developed country with camera's every place from entering buildings, in buildings, on the roads, in parking lots, banks, checkout lanes in grocery stores, gas stations.......everywhere.

Big brother is always watching you so get use to it because it is only going to get worse with the new ones that can determine face recognition up to a kilometer away.

Invest in hoodies and sunglasses is the only answer I have.
Yes, Ronald Reagan was one of the best presidents of our life time without question, by a normal thinking person.
Dougpol1 30 | 2,567
3 Jun 2019 #13
not a believer in road cameras which have been polluting Polish roads for years now.

You wouldn't be saying that after your child was a victim of the general idiocy that represents driving here.
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,012
3 Jun 2019 #14
new cars can record your location, how fast you are driving, how hard you brake,

I got one of those monitors from hell when I signed up with Progressive. After a year of this torture I was out because that damn device would record and report every time I stopped too fast according to some algorithm. So I started running through very stale yellows that would switch to very fresh red while I was still in the middle. That device made me near suicidal to avoid being yelled at for my "bad" braking.
Lyzko 42 | 9,497
3 Jun 2019 #15
I agree with that, Nathans.
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,012
3 Jun 2019 #16
I like cameras everywhere where the bad guys hunt for prey. I only wish they were super high resolution and with speakers for the cops to say, hey a**hole, don't do that!

I also like the fact that I am being tracked by the cell towers and my own GPS - the best alibi other than being locked up in prison.
cms neuf 2 | 1,816
3 Jun 2019 #17
But is much cheaper to have cameras than a cop waiting around (who could be doing other stuff). Cameras are much better for the taxpayers. The fines are not a tax because there is a simple way to avoid them - stick to the speed limit.

Driving conditions and behaviour have gone much better in the last few years but it is still very dangerous - a huge difference is that in the US drivers keep a sensible distance and normally stick to the speed limits.

In Poland if you are driving at the speed limit you will get some guy roaring up behind your back fender with a crazy look in his eyes then swinging out into the middle of the road every 20 seconds to try and overtake you.
delphiandomine 87 | 18,070
3 Jun 2019 #18
In Poland if you are driving at the speed limit you will get some guy roaring up behind your back fender with a crazy look

Happened to me three times in the space of 2 hours yesterday. One guy was losing his head despite me doing 110km/h on a 90km/h limit, and of course, he overtook me in a dangerous and idiotic way.

Average speed cameras are starting to be used in Poland, and I welcome them.
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,012
3 Jun 2019 #19
in the US drivers keep a sensible distance and normally stick to the speed limits.

You are so right. Set the cruise at 5 over limit and enjoy stress-free ride. The target is usually stuck in one place so no need to be a speed idiot.
cms neuf 2 | 1,816
3 Jun 2019 #20
So at least we agree on one thing Rich :)
Rich Mazur 4 | 3,012
3 Jun 2019 #21
I am sure we will find more...
Miloslaw 20 | 4,813
3 Jun 2019 #22
I only drove in Poland once.
Never again.
We took a long, family holiday and drove through France,Belgium,Holland and Germany, enjoying all those countries, but with the intention to spend 2 weeks in Poland.

I have driven in France many times, compared to Brits, they are nuts.
French friends and family always say they can spot a Brit driver a mile off, or should that be a km off..... because we drive so slowly.

What they mean by that is that we stick to the speed limit......
Belgians are slightly worse than The French.
Dutch and German drivers are very good, yes, The Germans drive fast on the motorways, but are skilled and safe.
By comparison, Polish drivers are an absolute disaster!
Too aggressive, poorly trained,too fast and often under the influence of alcohol.
I have not driven in every country in Europe, so my experience is not the full answer.
My only consolation to Polish drivers is that Spanish drivers are even worse.
And that Italian drivers are much worse!
OP SafeDriver
3 Jun 2019 #23
Interesting talk.. regarding drivers license and fines.. I know I can drive in Poland on a foreign drivers license while being there on vacation for up to 3 months or so. I don't plan to do anything irresponsible, but am I correct to assume that if I drive in Poland on a non-EU issued drivers license (eg. American one) and get a ticket, I can just ignore it?

I don't have a permanent residency | postal address in Poland, so I can just take the ticket and toss it out, correct? Or I could get in legal troubles if I don't pay it. Or.. the Polish police would mail me a ticket to my home abroad? I'd be forced to show them my US license so they would get my postal address.
delphiandomine 87 | 18,070
3 Jun 2019 #24
No, you can't ignore it. If the police stop you, you'll have to pay the fine on the spot, and if you don't have cash, they'll keep the car until you pay.

If it's a fine from a speed camera, then the owner of the car will have to give your details.

My only consolation to Polish drivers is that Spanish drivers are even worse.

I think it's changed, you know. I remember Spain 30 years ago and they were appalling, but I've been in Spain several times over the last 5 years and everyone was so peaceful and quiet. The only insane place was Gibraltar, where they drive like lunatics...

As for Poles, they're absolutely abysmal. I really should get a dashcam so I could upload highlights of all the insane things I've seen, including one guy the other day who jumped a red light next to me. The light had been red for a good 20 seconds! I drive fast when it's safe, but I don't jump red lights or tailgate!
mafketis 37 | 10,929
3 Jun 2019 #25
Spain several times over the last 5 years and everyone was so peaceful and quiet

I was in Spain last year and the driving was surprisingly sane. Unlike Malta (love the country but horrible, terrible, awful drivers... did I mention they're terrible?) Once on the way to the airport (after dark) a car with no lights on barreled straight through a traffic circle missing our taxi by less than 5 meters...

As for Poles, they're absolutely abysmal.

not all, I have driven with some very good Polish drivers... they're just not a large majority...
OP SafeDriver
3 Jun 2019 #26
the owner of the car will have to give your details.

Hm, hypothetical question - what if the owner of the car doesn't give the details or doesn't know who used his car. I'd hope it's not a crime in Poland not to know who drives your car? Or the car owner would go to jail / that would be tyrannical.
delphiandomine 87 | 18,070
3 Jun 2019 #27
I'd hope it's not a crime in Poland not to know who drives your car?

If you don't identify the driver, then the punishment is given to the owner(s) of the car.

If you do identify the driver and provide their details, then the criminal will be prosecuted and an arrest warrant will be issued for them if they don't pay the fine in time. Next time they cross a Schengen border, they'll be detained and extradited to Poland.
johnny reb 50 | 7,224
3 Jun 2019 #28
I'd hope it's not a crime in Poland not to know who drives your car?

What country in the world where it is not a crime to know who drove your car ? Do tell.
In fact if you don't have your car locked or you leave your keys in the ignition and someone steals it your insurance will not cover your loses.

That law, camera's and all the other hypotheticals here all 'force' millennials to be responsible and accountable for being dumb.
OP SafeDriver
3 Jun 2019 #29
If you don't identify the driver, then the punishment is given to the owner(s) of the car.

Is it for real? Cannot believe it. It's like executing the owner of a knife used to commit murder if he doesn't remember or doesn't want to reveal whom he sold it to. You become a criminal for a crime you haven't committed. Is it a part of the Polish constitution?

I may now but I choose not to tell or may not remember well and don't want to put someone in trouble. It's worse than during the Martial law in the 80thies in Poland it seems, not good for tourism :(
pawian 224 | 24,518
3 Jun 2019 #30
You become a criminal for a crime you haven't committed. Is it a part of the Polish constitution?

Actually, it is a good solution. I heard about smart guys who used to lend each other their cars and then race in streets and roads. They had got off with it until the new law was introduced 3,4 years ago.

You are sort of responsible for your car and car keys. Isn`t it natural?

I may now but I choose not to tell or may not remember well and don't want to put someone in trouble.

It is your choice but don`t be surprised when you are held responsible.


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