Side By Side
In No Passing Zone
Polish Driving Habits
Poland has just about the worst road death rate in the European Union. If you are new to Poland you should understand these habits if you drive or cross the streets.
More than 1/3 of the road kills are pedestrians. Many times they are killed in crosswalks inside city limits. Tourists should take caution to understand this information.
There are some good drivers in Poland. There are many that are simply dangerous. And it only takes one to kill YOU.
1. Drivers will pass when they don't see a car coming at them.
When they approach a curve, they cannot see anyone coming. So they ignore white lines defining a no passing zone and pass.
When they approach a hill, they cannot see people on the other side. So they pass even though in a no passing zone.
2. Drivers will pass a car stopped for a pedestrian.
The first driver slows or stops for a person with the right of way in a cross walk. The second driver sees that only as an impediment, speeds up and passes the first. The pedestrian does not see the moving vehicle which is blocked from view by the stopped vehicle. He steps out past the stopped vehicle and meets his death.
3. Speeding within city limits is normal.
Speeding in small towns in marked congestion zone where the speed limit is 40 or 40 km/hr is normal. High speed in cities such as Warsaw is normal.
Loss of control accidents cause numerous deaths of people simply waiting at a bus stop. And they add to crosswalk deaths.
4. Drivers ignore no passing zones.
The solid white lines on roads that mark no passing zones are little more than decoration. Note the picture above that shows a classic example.
In a no passing zone (see the solid white line) two cars, side by side, were passing a third. Note the car from which the picture was taken had just come over a hill. When the driver saw two cars coming at her, one in her lane and one in the right breakdown lane, she swerved into the right breakdown lane. The gray car, that was in the right breakdown lane swerved right.
5. Drivers assume that others will yield to them.
There is no concept of defensive driving. One gets on the road and pushes. Regardless of priorities or rights of way, any slower traffic or traffic in the way is expected to move aside.
6. Red lights are a suggestion.
They are an opportunity to get ahead. And the opportunity is taken quite often.
7. Yellow lights mean accelerate.
These are a real opportunity. Watch for accelerating cars.
8. Alcohol is a big problem
Driving drunk is a badge of courage.
9. Drivers will cut you off if you do not exceed the speed limit.
This is a common cause of road kills. The offending driver often comes to close and clips the front of the first car. He loses control and runs off the road.
10. Weaving from lane to lane is normal.
There is absolutely no lane discipline that you see in German or Netherlands. If there is a way to pass a car, going from the extreme left lane to the extreme right line, passing again, and then going to the extreme left lane is normal.
11. Passing on the right is standard.
Actually, the right hand lane is a high speed lane. This is particularly dangerous when that right hand lane will merge left in a short distance. Drivers can expect some high speed cars coming past on their right and suddenly cutting left into their lane as the other lane ends.
12. Drivers will come from behind your or behind you on your right side, pass you and immediately swerve right, and cut you off to make an exit.
You may have to brake to avoid them as they execute this maneuver. They do this even though they could have waited until you passed the exit and then exited.
Please note than in 2008, only Lithuania had a higher road death rate. The above is a partial list of the reasons why.