Driving in Poland – speed limit, rules

written by Maciek Bogdanski

General information on driving in Poland

If you plan to come to Poland with your own car, or plan to rent a car here, you will probably be interested in what driving in Poland looks like, and what speed limit Poland has introduced.

Generally, we are somewhere between Germany and Spain when it comes to obeying the rules.

Like almost everywhere in Europe, we drive on the right. Most of us use blinkers before changing lanes, but like everywhere – some of us don’t. We usually don’t obey speed limits very strictly and driving 10 km/h over the limit is considered normal, though the police have a different opinion on that.

Having a fire extinguisher in the car is obligatory, so if you hire a car in Poland, make sure it has one.

And we never, never try to bribe the Police. Those times are gone and if you try, you’ll get into even bigger trouble.

Below you’ll find other useful information on driving in Poland.

Speed limit in Poland

Speed limits in Poland are a bit complicated compared to other European countries. As you enter Poland, at the border you should see the following road sign:

Speed limit in Poland
Driving in Poland – Speed limit in Poland

Before July 2021, it was even more complicated, as the speed limit in Poland during the day and at night was different. Now it has been simplified a bit.

Speed limit in a built-up area

Contrary to what you might think, the road sign with city/village name does not impose reducing speed. The built-up area is marked with the following road sign:

Built-up area roadsign indicating 50 km/h speed limit
Built-up area roadsign indicating 50 km/h speed limit

In the built-up area, maximum speed is set to 50 km/h. Exceeding the limit is expensive.

Speed limit outside a built-up area

Outside the built-up area, the speed depends on whether the lanes in opposite directions are separated (100 km/h) or not (90km/h). The same applies to the express way – if it’s separated and there are two lanes in both directions, the maximum speed allowed is 120. Otherwise, it’s only 100.

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Speed limit on a highway

The maximum speed allowed on a highway in Poland is 140 km/h.

There are two more road signs referring to speed limits in Poland. Although speed meters are quite common, and you may find them very frequently, what is new is segmental speed measurement:

Speed limit in Poland - Segmental speed measurement
Driving in Poland – segmental speed measurement road signs

There are only a few roads where you may find those signs, so it’s easy to overlook them.

One more new regulation, that was introduced in July 2021, is the distance that you need to keep from the preceding cars on highways and express ways. It should be greater than half of your actual speed in meters (e.g. if your speed is 100km/h, you should keep 50 meters distance from the car in front of you. This rule was introduced because there were many accidents due to the cars not being able to brake and hitting the preceding cars

The acceptable alcohol content in Poland

The level of alcohol content in the blood is lower than in most European countries. If it’s over 19 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (0,19%), but less than 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, it’s qualified as an offence. If it’s over 50 milligrams, then it is a crime. (driving under influence of alcohol)

Polish regular beers are a bit stronger than those in Western Europe (usually about 6%) so even a small beer may result in exceeding the limit. But in most convenience stores and supermarkets, there is a wide choice of non-alcoholic beers available. That includes not only fruit-flavoured beer but also lagers, wheat or IPA beers. The permissible alcohol level in Poland is low, so it’s worth trying them if you want to taste beer but stay sober.

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The golden rule while driving in Poland is: if you have drunk, don’t drive.

Highways and high-speed roads

There are only 4 highways in Poland, and all of them have a toll system depending on the distance driven. There’s no vignette that allows you to use all the highways. Each time, you need to take the ticket at the entrance and pay at the exit gate.

There are facilities on the way (toilets, fuel stations, bars every 50-100km) but prices are significantly higher than outside highways.

Free Highways in Poland

Starting on the 1st of July 2023 some Highways in Poland are free. Those are mainly those operated by the state: A2 (Strykow-Konin) and A4 (Wroclaw-Sosnica). A1 Highway is free only on weekends.

Highway speed limit in Poland

As we mentioned before, the speed limit in Poland on a highway is 140. Contrary to Germany, in Poland drivers sometimes overtake using the right lane, so always check if you have space to change the lane to the right. In case of an accident, It’ll be your fault.

Toll gate on highway in Poland
Toll gate on the highway in Poland

Police control in Poland

Police controls are quite common and may be carried out by marked or unmarked Police cars. The Police are usually checking the speed and test for drink-driving. Speed may also be checked by stationary equipment – both checking the speed at the moment of measure and the average speed on a distance of 1-2 km.

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Speeding fines in Poland

On the 17th of September 2022, new fines were introduced in Poland. Speed limit exceeding by 1-30 km/h costs up to 400 PLN. If you are driving 30km/h over the speed limit, Poland will be richer by 800 PLN, over 40 km/h to 1000, and then increases 500 PLN per every 10km/h exceeding the speed limit. Poland can redeem the money using your home country’s Police as an intermediary. The fine doubles if you are caught for the second time.

If you exceed the speed limit in an inhabited area by 50 km/h, you’ll lose your driving licence.

International driving licence in Poland

Poland has signed both the Vienna Convention and the Geneva Conventions on Road Traffic, so both driving licences are respected in Poland. Furthermore, all European driving licences are valid in Poland, and driving in Poland is also possible with a Ukrainian driving licence. Just remember that you need to be over 18 to drive in Poland, whatever the age limit is in your country.

Useful Apps for driving in Poland

Except for Google Maps, which helps a lot while travelling in Poland, we recommend Yanosik. This App, with the help of the community using it, not only helps to navigate through Poland but also warns about unexpected incidents. Users also warn about the Police controls on the way.

Petrol price in Poland

Petrol price in Poland has risen recently due to the war in Ukraine. It varies a bit in various regions, but generally expect to pay about 6,5 PLN (1,4 EUR)/ litre of E5 petrol (November 2022). This is still one of the cheapest prices in Europe.

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Tips for driving in Poland

There are some signals that we use in Poland to communicate. For instance, flashing the headlights on the crossroad means “go on, I give you the way”. Using both blinkers by the car driving in front of you without any incident visible usually means that you have forgotten to turn on your lights. The same if the car going in opposite directions flashes with the headlights – but this may also mean that there is police control (or some unexpected danger) in front of you.

When there is a possibility of a traffic jam in one lane usually this sign is visible:

Priority lane road sign in Poland
Priority lane road sign in Poland

It requires you to give priority to cars that want to change lanes because of their lane ending or being blocked, but only if there is a traffic jam and the speed is low on both lanes.

Using dashcams is legal in Poland, but it may not be accepted in court in case of any incident that brings you there.

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