Driving in Poland

by mbogda

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. 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 as everywhere – some of us don’t. We usually don’t obey speed limits very strictly and driving 20 km/h over the limit is considered normal, though the police has a different opinion on that.

And we never, never try to bribe the Police. Those time 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 limits in Poland

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

Speed limits in Poland
Speed limits in Poland

Before July 2021 it was even more complicated, as velocity restrictions in Poland during the day and at night were different. Now it has been simplified a bit. 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 expressway – 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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There are two more road sign referring to speed limits in Poland. Although speed meters are quite common and you may find them very often, what is new is segmental speed measurement:

Segmental speed measurement
Segmental speed measurement road signs

There are only a few roads where you may find those signs, so it’s easy to overlook them. The longest segment of segmental speed measurement is on A1 highway between Radomsko and Lodz. As they are still constructing the highway, the maximum speed is limited to 60-70 km/h.

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

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 expressways. It should be greater than half of your actual speed in meters (eg. if your speed is 100km/h, you should keep 50 meters distance from the car in front of you. This rule was introduced because

Alcohol limit in Poland

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

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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 supermarket there is a wide choice of non-alcoholic beers availble. That includes not only fruit flavoured beer, but also lagers, wheat or IPA beers. Permissible alcohol level in Poland is low, so it’s worth trying them.

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 using all the highways. Each time you need to take the ticket at the entrance and pay at the exit gate. There are facilities (toilets, fuel stations, bars every 50-100km) but prices are significantly higher than outside highways.

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

Police controls in Poland

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

Useful Apps for driving a car in Poland

Except for Google Maps, which helps a lot while travelling in Poland, we recommend Yanosik. This App, with the help of 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 is stable recently. It varies a bit in various regions, but generally expect to pay about 4,5 PLN (1 EUR)/ litre of E5 petrol. This is about 20% less than in Germany.

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 in front of you.

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When there is a possibility of traffic jam on 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 lane 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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