Poland by car

Although about half of the Polish roads are far from satisfactory, traveling through Poland can give some tourists a lot of pleasure. This applies especially to the northern slopes of the country, beautifully planted with old trees, which create beautiful tree-lined avenues. Thanks to UE funds many roads are already on a very decent level, though unpleasant surprises in the local sections are not excluded.

FORMALITIES / DOCUMENTS

The entrance to Poland

In connection with the Polish accession to the Schengen area border crossings on the border with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania are abolished. The entrance to Poland from the west (Germany) takes place in the following places:

Bobolin, Buk, Gryfino, Gubin, Jędrzychowice, Kołbaskowo, Kostrzyn, Krajnik Dolny, Krzewina Zgorzelecka, Lubieszyn, Łęknica, Olszyna, Osinów Dolny, Porajów, Przewóz, Rosówek, Sieniawka, Słubice, Świecko, Świnoujście, Zgorzelec  (Goerlitz)

 

A6 – Kołbaskowo / Pommelen; A2 – Świecko / Frankfurt (Oder); A18 – Olszyna / Forst; A4 – Jędrzychowice / Ludwigsdorf

Obligatory driver’s documents:

  • personal ID
  • international driving licence
  • vehicle registration card with the valid MOT certificate
  • third-party liability insurance

BASIC RULES OF THE ROAD TRAFFIC

 In Poland we drive on the right hand side of the road having always lights switched on.

 Speed limits

urban roads

  • 20 km / h in a residential area.

  • 50 km / h  – 5.00 – 23.00
  • 60 km / h – 23.00 – 5.00

 

outside urban areas

  •  90 km / h outside urban areas
  •  100 km / h single carriageway express
  •  100 km / h at least dual carriageway with two lanes in each direction

 highways

  •  120 km / h dual carriageway express with two lanes in each direction
  •  140 km / h motorway

The use of the car

  • fastened seatbelts are compulsory for drivers and passengers both in front and back seats
  • children up to 12 years of age must travel in special certified child seats
  • compulsory dipped headlights (day and night) all year round
  • use of mobile phone is allowed exclusively through a hands-free set
  • The permitted blood alcohol level for the driver  – 0.2 mg/l ( more then 0.5 mg/l is an offence and is subject to imprisonment of up to two years)

Obligatory car accessories

  • a fire extinguisher
  • a warning triangle
  • a first aid kit
  • a reflective vest

Phone number for the national road assistance network: 0719637

PETROL STATIONS AND FUEL

 Poland is covered with a dense network of petrol stations, many of which belong to the major international oil companies:  Shell, BP, Statoil, Esso and Neste. In all of them (also Polish) you can pay by credit card. Stations are located in large cities or along roads. In areas with less intensive traffic are not frequent. In big cities and on international routes you can easily find all day gas stations. In smaller places stations are running up to 6 pm.

 

 About the type of fuel sold inform following road signs:

  • black and green distributor = petrol station
  • distributor + LPG = also gas is available
  • a sign that says LPG GAS = only gas is available

 The most popular types of fuels are 95- and 98-octane petrol and diesel.

CAR RENTAL

There is an international network of car rental in Poland:  Avis, Acecar, Budget, Express, Hertz, National Car. Rentals can be found mostly in larger cities (often near airports) and are usually opened all day. The offer consists of varied car models. Car rental prices range from 100 to 400 zł per day (25 – 100 euros), depending on the brand.

http://www.staypoland.com/carrent/wynajem_samochodow.asp

 ROADS

The highways in Poland are divided into motorways and expressways.  Currently (April 2012) in Poland there are about 1,100 km of motorways, 540 km of expressways dual carriageways and 325 km of expressways carriageway.

Motorway (Polish: autostrada) – a public road with limited access, equipped with two permanently separated one-way roadways, having a multi-level crossing with all intersecting roads (land and water). Motorways in Poland are identified by the letter A, followed by a number (e.g. A1). Longer lengths connect north and south and east to west. Permitted speed: 140 km (passenger cars, motorcycles, trucks to 3.5 tonnes)

http://wrut.pl/ssc/    Map of motorways and expressways, green indicates the route completed

Further informations on the various motorways are at the following sites:

A4 near Cracow

Some motorways are paid (A1, A2, A4, A8), some are free (A6, A8, A18, parts of A2). There are two toll systems:

  •  opened (more popular) – fees shall be paid in tollbooths (PPO) placed on the highways; the amount of payment depends on the type of vehicle
  •  closed – the fee shall be paid at toll booths, which are placed on access roads (SOP) and in the final sections of the motorway (PPO); the fee is dependent on vehicle type and a trip distance.

Expressway – a limited-access road which can be dual or single carriageway, having a multi-level crossing with all intersecting roads (land and water) and particularly also with one-level crossing with public roads.  Using the expressway is free for light vehicles.

Permitted speed: 120 km (dual carriageway), 100 km (single carriageway)

Expressway

Road markings

Sometimes disappointing, so a good GPS system is highly recommended.

Useful information

The travel route may be planned, weather conditions may be checked and information about planned repairs and traffic obstacles may be found on the Website of the General Directorate of National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA)

Driving culture

Polish drivers routinely fail to comply with orders to speed limits in areas where there is no radar and police checks. Regular practice is also crossing the double line and overtaking in prohibited areas. Poles also do not comply to the ban of talking on cell phones during driving. The problem is also driving under the influence of alcohol. I regret to say that police checks are insufficient on Polish roads.

Personal notes

During our trip to Poland we were generally pleased with the quality of roads.

Somewhere in Poland

ren

sources:Gazeta Wyborcza, http://www.staypoland.com, http://www.poland.gov.pl, http://www.polska.travel/pl, own experiences

 foto: Vikimedia Commons, Renata Głuszek, GDDKiA

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