I have been living in England for over four years now (check out: ‘Things, I’m tired of in England.’) And although I passed my driving exam a year before, here I didn’t drive the car until this year. I had the opportunity more than once, but the fear of the unknown paralyzed me a lot. In the end, however, I decided to pull myself together and invested in my first car. I have to admit that for such a dropout like me, the beginnings were not easy. After these few months, I have decided to share with you some differences between driving and rules in Poland and England.
Left Hand Traffic
It is rather nothing new and probably most of you know that England has left-hand traffic. English cars have the steering wheel on the right. Initially, it may be hard to learn, but three or four days of driving is enough to get used to it. In my opinion, it is worth starting with driving in a place where there are more cars because when we turn into an empty street, we want to enter the right lane out of habit. Now try to imagine changing gears with your left hand. It’s quite a difficulty for the first time.
Crossings and the right hand rule
In Poland, we have a right-hand rule, which means that at an unmarked crossroads we give priority to a person coming from our right. However, this rule does not apply in England, nor is it reflected as the ‘left-hand rule.’ The priority is marked on the roads by road signs or by horizontal lines on the asphalt. In the case of an unmarked crossroad, we cannot assume that we have priority. No vehicle has got a priority. Depending on the situation, we should give way or wait for someone to give way to us – fortunately, the driving culture is of a fairly high standard here. Drivers rarely force priority here.
So far this is my Achilles’ heel! It is obvious that driving on roundabouts in England takes place in the opposite direction than in Poland. To signal the exit from the roundabout, we should turn on the left turn blinker. We should. Unfortunately, I rarely see it, and my partner says that people can see I am not from here, because I turn on the blinker at every roundabout. This is unfortunately very problematic, especially if the driver leaves the roundabout, still using the inside lane without an indicator, and we’re trying to enter the outside lane. In Poland we would probably get a ticket for that.
A big plus here are the asphalt markings, which show us which lane to enter or exit on at large roundabouts. Tiny roundabouts, drawn on asphalt, mainly in built-up areas, are also a norm. Here we have to be especially careful, because sometimes drivers treat them as normal crossroads.
|Built-up area||50km/h (31mph)||30mph|
|Single carriageway||100km/h (62mph)||60mph|
|Dual carriageway||120km/h (75mph)||70mph|
As you can see, the restrictions are slightly lower in England than in Poland. In addition, in Poland we can exceed the speed by 10 km/h, in England by 10%. So, for example, we can exceed 3mph in built-up areas, and 7mph on the highway.
Also in Poland, the speed limit marked with signs officially ends after next crossroad. In England, however, it is valid until we see a ‘end of speed limit’ sign or other speed limit sign.
In England, compared to Poland, there is no ban on changing lanes just before a pedestrian crossing. However, there is a ban on parking there and overtaking vehicles that give way to pedestrians. Besides, pedestrians can enter the zebra crossing despite the red light, because in England they won’t be fined for it, in Poland they would. Unfortunately, it is quite dangerous.
The alcohol limit in the blood of drivers in Poland is 0.2 per mille. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has the highest blood-alcohol threshold in Europe, and it is as much as 0.8 per mille! So it’s quite normal for people to go to pubs for a beer or two and then drive cars.
In Poland, a car must be equipped with: an illuminated number plate, a warning triangle, and an efficient fire extinguisher. In England, however, legally we only need to have a warning triangle, the rest is only recommended. However, it is forbidden to use the warning triangle on the highway, which for me personally was quite a surprise. Additionally, in Poland, we must remember to replace summer tires with winter ones, in England, it is not required.
There are quite a lot of differences here, and these are just a few, I believe are the most important. It is always worth reading about the driving rules in a country, we start driving in.