Cultural: Small things, part 4

Driving/driver's license

Most cars here are stick shift - most do not have automatic transmissions.

They are diligently working on making what we in the USA called freeways (or toll roads/expressways) or in Germany-- autobahn.  They still do not have such a road that goes around Warsaw, the capital city.  They have told us we are going to have a ring road by 2020, or somewhere around there.

Part of it is done - but unfortunately, the side of the city where we live is the side where it isn't finished.  So for us to get to the other side of Warsaw in order to head to Germany, we have to go right through the middle of the city in order to head west on the part of the autobahn that is finished.

Many parts of Poland now do have good roads, however we desperately need many more.

Because most places do not have 4 lane roads, people tend to make their own "passing lanes" even when they don't really exist.  It is considered polite to pull far over to the right side of the lane of a two lane road if you see people behind you who want to pass. This way, if the cars on the other side do it as well, you create an empty passing lane" in the middle of the road.  It works. It really does if the shoulders are wide enough.

In order to get your driver's license here, you have to take a paid course--there are many companies or schools that you can enroll with. There are no such laws that allow a regular person with a driver's license to teach another or let them practice without paying per hour to practice.  Learners drive a special car with an "L" on the top.

I was told, it used to be a corrupt system where you could pay enough to guarantee that you would pass (hopefully that has changed). I knew a couple of young people who tried 5 times to pass their driving part in downtown Warsaw.  It was to the examiner's benefit to flunk potential drivers since people pay each time they take the test.  They eventually tried in a different city and passed the first time with no bribe to the examiner. (This was many years ago.)  

Also, until recently, once you had a license, it never expired.

It is tradition to wash your car before a major holiday like Christmas or Easter.  It is kind of reminiscent of gas shortages in the US from when I was young - the cars often line up in long lines as most people seem to use a car wash and don't seem to wash them at home.

While full sized pickups are common in many parts of the USA, they are rare here.  It's not that they are banned. They just aren't here. It is one of those things we notice whenever we go back to the states. For example, in Alaska, last time we were there, it seems like it was about 50/50 pickups to other types of vehicles.


(Most vehicles here are more economical than a typical pickup--fuel is more expensive here than in the USA.)

And you know more than you used to know about driving, cars/vehicles and licenses in Poland!

Have a great day!




Becky Petersen7 Comments