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16 August 2008

Driving differences between UK and Poland

Whilst googling for Polish traffic news I just happened to find an article called Jak jeżdzić po Anglii? (How to drive around in England) on the popular Polish portal Out of curiosity I had a quick read and it showed up some differences that I hadn't been aware of:

  • As you might expect, our road signs are a little different. But unless you have recently passed your test who honestly remembers what they all mean anyway? So I didn't pay too much attention to that paragraph except the bit regarding this sign:
    As I am sure you remember from the Highway Code (nod along blankly if you don't) in the UK this means "National Speed Limits now appy", which in a car with no trailer means 60mph or 70mph on a dual carriage-way. Therefore whenever I saw this sign in Poland I put my foot down. But according to that article in Poland it means "previous signs banning things no longer apply" and thus has nothing to do with speed limits. Whoops.
  • Seatbelts - they change the law all the time on this back in the UK so I haven't got a clue what the rules are now anyway. It used to be that children under 14 didn't need a belt in the back. Now babies need a car seat. Now your pet dog needs to be bolted to the floor. Well probably. The rules in fact according to this article say:
    • In Britain - Everyone has to wear a seatbelt. There are no exceptions for pregnant women or those in the back. Children under 12 not taller than 135cm need a kiddy seat or booster seat.
    • In Poland - similar except women who are "visibly pregnant" don't need to wear a belt. The kiddy rule is the same except the height limit is 150cm.
  • Alcohol - Britain has a very liberal blood-alcohol limit of 0.8. Most of Europe is 0.5. Poland is 0.2 which leaves you very very little margin to drive if you have had anything to drink at all. Personally I don't drive if I have had a drink at all and was aware of this, but worth mentioning.
  • Penalty points - In Britain if you get 12 points you lose your licence. Most speeding offences carry 3 points and they last for 3 years. Poland is not so strict. Points only last 1 year and you don't feel them until you have racked up 24 points! Plus if you aren't spanking it down the road it's probably only 2 points anyway. But this is irrelevant for most of us - Poles will be driving in the UK on a Polish licence (thus no British points for them) and likewise for us Brits in Poland. The EU is a great thing!
  • Headlights - this should be simple. If it get's dark, turn them on. If it's not, turn them off. But it's not:
    • UK - headlights required when visibility falls below 100 metres. Only side-lights are required in built-up areas with street-lighting.
    • Poland - headlights (not sidelights) required 24/7 365. Worth mentioning that this previously was a requirement only in winter months, but as of 2007 it is summer months too. But I saw on the news they are debating reverting it back to winter months again.... oh Politicians!
Happy motoring.


Anonymous said...

The main difference is that in poland you are not respecting the road signs :)


IzaRzetka said...

Very useful stuff!
It's amazing the stuff you gotta go through when moving to a different country, isn't it? - I'm a Pole in Britain and was a bit overwhelmed with all the paperwork etc.
Didn't realise moving to Poland is as difficult as moving to England:P

Wszystkiego dobrego i gratuluje Potomka!

charles said...

hi everyone my name is charlie i live in Kielce and have run into a bit off a problem.I cant understand the polish healthcare
does anyone know of a british doc over here as i just want to see a GP but have noticed that you have a docs for different complants. also can we buy health insurance like we have in the uk like Bupa.. so when i see a doc or if the worst should happen iam covered under the insurance i have my uk euro health insurance health card but when i prented this to a doc i n kielce he just looked at it and said that will be 200 zoloty.. ANY ADVICE.

plus i would like to meet brits in poland as i feel as if im alone here.. thanks charlie

BritInPoland said...

Hi Charlie

My best advice would be to ask on

You will get a quick answer there. Personally I have just used the EHIC without problems so far.



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