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Driving in Poland

Hi,

What do you think of the way people drive in Poland? How different is it from your home country?

Respecting the road safety rules, driving etiquette such as general courtesy, speed excess… what are the characteristics of the driving style in Poland?

Share with us the difficulties one may face when driving in Poland: peak hours, road conditions, accident, etc. and your advice to drive safely in the country.

Thank you in advance for participating,

Maximilien

Polish drivers, in the cities, racing from one red light to the next. Changing lanes without indication and undertaking to get in front so that they can wait at the next traffic one place in front of you.
At roundabouts it seems there is little understanding about which lane to use or indicating when you are when about to leave the roundabout. Many times you will see drivers using the outside lane on a roundabout to go all the round and turn left. No indication is given when they intend to leave.
Sometimes will see some courtesy on the roads with other drivers letting you out at a junction but its not that common.
As in many countries you will find drivers crawling along in the outside lane on the motorways, at least n Poland its is not illegal to undertake (however it is done at your own risk)
In general the feeling is that there are many Poles who drive who do not have a full grasp of the riving experience. This is only to be expected considering motorways are a relatively new thing across the country, the number of cars on the road has exploded (10 x ) over the last 20 years. 25 years ago the majority of private vehicles on the road had 2 stroke 600 cc engines and a max speed < 100 kph. Guess it takes a little time for the Mercedes, BMW revolution to become the norm.
This is not to say that Poland is the worst place I have ever driven (Driven cars on 5 different continents) but road awareness, road craft and national driving identity is not something that is learnt in a classroom. It is something that evolves over time. The Italians drive very differently to the Germans who are different again to the British.
If the Poles follow their neighbors, Germany, in driving style they will not go far wrong - keep to the right on motorways unless you are overtaking, use indicators at roundabouts, realize that the city street is a not race track and racing from red to red does not get you anywhere any quicker, show a little courtesy to other road users and don't undertake at every possible opportunity.
I do feel that over the last 5 years the appearance of road rage is showing its ugly head

Yep, I agree with everything said above.

Minnes's comments sums up the situation very well. Lack of courtesy on the roads is in my opinion just another aspect of lack of courtesy / manners in general in Polish society. I know the exaggerated manners of well educated people are fine but the average man / women in the street has a distinct lack of common manners.

What I find the most annoying is the lack of clarity regarding speed limits particulary when driving out of town. Obscure rules like if so many houses are near the road there is an unmarked speed limit. Villages with next to no houses near the road have a town sign which sets a speed limit for no apparent reason.  A very common feature is a speed restriction sign and then no sign to indicate end of zone. There seems to be an obsession with multiple signs many of which serve no purpose and are basically useless. As everywhere speed cameras are used to supplement funding for local authoruies / police forces. I feel that in Poland you need to budget 1-2000 zl for traffic fines a year. I suppose it is the equivalent of the road fund tax in the UK except that if you are very lucky you may pay only a small amount.

If you get stopped be very polite to policeman, explain that you are a foreigner and pretend, if it is not the truth, that you did not understand that you had broken a rule and that you thought you were driving in accordance with all the rules. The worst your Polish is in such a situation the more chance you will escape a fine.

If by any chance you still have an old fashioned UK driving licence, no photo, KEEP IT!!! The Polish police hate anything without a photo and will often give up when filling in their form and let you off.
Many years ago I got stopped and showed my old licence to the policeman who insisted it was not a licence as it did not have a photo. Eventually a sergent came who accepted it but said I should really have something with a photo. I showed him my Libyan licence, completely in arabic but with a photo, and was informed it was fine to drive with this. I did ask him him how many Polish policemen could read arabic but surprisingly he did not know.

Having moaned above I should let you know my son has just started a driving course. It certainly seems very modern and comprehensive. As Minnes suggest when today's generation mature the driving standards will get better

Hi Polterry, nice post.

Pretty much agree with you on all.

But I can help you avoid speeding fines. Get yourself the Yanosik driving app for your phone. It's free and works like a GPS, the difference being that it give you all the stationary speed cameras.
The best thing about it though is that it's user controlled, so if someone sees an accident of an unmarked speed trap they input it into the system and then you'll get a warning as you're getting close to the area.

I've been using it for 3 years, haven't got a ticket once.

Driving Poznan to Gdansk tomorrow.. already been to bank cash machine so I have cash ready to pay the obligatory mandat :-)

Do you notice any difference between Warsaw and Upper Silesia?

>Obscure rules like if so many houses are near the road there is an unmarked speed limit.
This is no longer the case. This rule was abolished in the early 1980s, if not earlier.

As an American, I've lived in Warsaw a little over 2 years and absolutely hate driving in Poland. In general, I find drivers incredibly irresponsible and basically lacking in driving experience. In Warsaw, drivers don't pay attention to pedestrians or cyclists. It's awful! On the highways, Polish drivers pass cars in such dangerous situations ALL the time.

I thought Poles had a very rigorous driving exam to pass before getting their license, but I don't see how that's possible. I also agree with Minnes's comments above, which really sum up the situation very well.

Paddy

thanks for info on App. I am afraid I am one of those expats who has not learnt the language very well. I did try, honest, but I just cannot produce the words, not to mention the grammar. Anyway the the App would only work if my wife and/or son were also in car. I like the idea of users inputting info about mobile speed traps, accidents etc. but how practical is it for drivers to input? Surely you need a passenger or a stop in a layby to do so safely. We do have a SatNav with speedcams and also I am experimenting with a couple of Android apps.

Hi Polterry

You don't need to speak Polish to use it, my Polish is pretty bad and I use it every time I drive.

I'll try to explain how it works...... as you're driving, you'll receive a warning (voice & symbol) of a speed trap, or accident, or roadworks.
With the symbol you'll be shown a green tick or red X, if you want (you don't have to) you can confirm it, or reject it.
You don't have to confirm or reject it, it's totally up to you.
If you see an accident, the cops etc, you can report them, but you don't have to. It's a personal choice. only once using it in about 3 years have I come across a speed trap that wasn't on the app. And it was in a real redneck sh!thole in the middle of nowhere :D

When you open the app you're given a few options in Polish, the one you want it 'Nawiguj' and when closing the app 'Zamknij'.


You'll need to have your GPS and mobile data activated on your smartphone while driving.
It's free and it'll save you money in fines and time regarding roadworks because you'll be able to find a different route :)

Thanks for update. Presumably you must have data active for police traps. Do you know if  fixed cameras are available in the navigation mode without data i.e. just using GPS? It appears that is the case from my small test in the garden. I only use WiFi on my phone / tablet.
You probably got caught by one of the illegal, as later ruled by courts, hidden cameras set by by every village chief to make some extra money.
Glad I am not the only one who has failed to master language

Further to myturkishjoys comments on my 1st trip to Poland, about 20 years ago, met at airport by wife's parents with her car. About 30 minutes outside Warsaw a car came up fast right on our ar.., it pulled out without looking, overtook us, car coming other way, massive swerve / skid, finished up upside down in ditch other side of the road. There are still many drivers from that generation who have no yet learnt how to drive reasonably. The new test looks difficult so hopefully things will slowly improve

I've used most of the nav apps and the international  ones do not keep up with the speed traps never mind the new roads/ road works in Poland -mainly because they use the database form one of three sources (Tom Tom, Google or Nokia HERE). Driving Poznan to Gdansk (using Sygic) indicated many speed traps that no longer exist  -mainly the grey box ones that Poland bought from the UK that were probably never working in the first place :-) I believe its only the yellow ones that are active. I've inadvertently sped past many of the grey boxes without ever having had any notification. It is mainly the country village back road, police car stopped,  temporary money making pitch that get me :-(
The Polish specific apps (e.g Yanosik) seem to keep up with speed traps (even temp ones) pretty well but they mostly don't work offline since I assume they are based on google maps with custom overlay.

Polterry :

Presumably you must have data active for police traps. Do you know if  fixed cameras are available in the navigation mode without data i.e. just using GPS? It appears that is the case from my small test in the garden. I only use WiFi on my phone / tablet.

Further to myturkishjoys comments on my 1st trip to Poland, about 20 years ago, met at airport by wife's parents with her car. About 30 minutes outside Warsaw a car came up fast right on our ar.., it pulled out without looking, overtook us, car coming other way, massive swerve / skid, finished up upside down in ditch other side of the road. There are still many drivers from that generation who have no yet learnt how to drive reasonably. The new test looks difficult so hopefully things will slowly improve

You're correct, the fixed cameras are available without using your data. But y'know any reasonable mobile operator now is giving 4 or 5 GB of data per month as part of their monthly tariff.
I hope, like you, that people learn to slow down on the roads. The same goes for drink driving. Both are a massive problem here.

minnes :

The Polish specific apps (e.g Yanosik) seem to keep up with speed traps (even temp ones) pretty well but they mostly don't work offline since I assume they are based on google maps with custom overlay.

Yea, I think that's how it works.
But as you see an accident, road works, you add them to the map then the next user to drive around that spot confirms it or rejects. Seems to work because there's a kind of weird sense of community about using the app. People don't want to get caught speeding, or in traffic jams so they pass the message around regarding where they are.
Same goes for drivers with CB radios.....still, very popular here.

Totally agree! Yanosik is a free downloadable app that saves me day in and day out with no tickets!

Yes, Yanosik only works when you have mobile data turned on, but it doesn't use barely any mb of download usage while online. It's a great free app that basically saves you from getting any tickets, try it, you will love it!
Download Yanosik mate and you will not need to spend one red cent!

Another problems in Poland are hospitals. In many of them, the staff is unable to help foreigners due to language or law barriers. I decided to make an extensive research about hospitals and clinic in Poland, which accept all foreign insurance policies and has multilingual staff. I was shocked negatively because I found only one clinic which was able to fulfill all my points. To be honest there was only one place in the country which was able to fulfill this requirement. It was a n American clinic in Wilanow

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