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Polish Drivers again!

From the Yorkshire Post. I was a bit shocked at this:

Road carnage alarm over East Europe immigrants

Police in North Yorkshire have been proactive in trying to reduce the numbers of serious accidents
By Tom Smithard Political Correspondent
Exclusive: Eastern European immigrants are now responsible for nearly 15 per cent of fatal crashes on the region's rural roads, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Concern has become so great over the massive increase in collisions that young Polish men will be reclassified as one of Yorkshire's three most-at-risk-on-the-road groups.

Until now no figures have been available for the proportion of road accidents caused by immigrants, with data only charting drivers' current place of residence and not ethnicity or place of birth.

But officers at North Yorkshire Council became increasingly concerned with anecdotal evidence and went through data on all crashes from the last year, finding out the place of birth of each person responsible.

Their startling figures show that 14 per cent of fatal road accidents are now caused by Eastern European immigrants – and yesterday councillors warned that the situation is only likely to get worse as the region's economy becomes more reliant on migrant labour.

In 2005, the latest statistics available, 798 people suffered serious injuries in North Yorkshire's roads and 85 people were killed.

In June, over the same weekend, a Polish driver crashed and died at Leeming while a three-year-old girl died along with her 21-year-old Slovakian nanny after a crash near Thirsk.

Last December a Polish lorry driver was arrested after a crash closed one of the county's busiest roads in both directions for more than six hours.

The collision, between a van and a lorry, was on the A1 as the lorry attempted to turn into the southbound carriageway.

Executive member for community safety John Fort said: "We've noticed there's becoming quite a serious problem with immigrant drivers from Eastern Europe.

"The 14 per cent of fatal road accidents figure is nearly as many as we get with motorcyclists, and it has long been established that we have a particular problem with them.

"The majority of Eastern Europeans involved are 16 to 24-year-olds, who tend to be production workers and speak little English. These are people who need cars to get from A to B on our rural road network, where there are not many buses.

"They tend to pile a lot of people into one car, drive too fast, go round roundabouts the wrong way and often indulge in drink-driving.

"As a group there's a distinct lack of common sense, and we as a county council have decided that we will make a real effort to get to the bottom of the problem."

Mr Fort said that North Yorkshire is leading the way in tackling the issue. He said that while the migrant community was growing faster in the county than in most other places, if the approach was successful it could be rolled out around Britain.

"We're making a concerted effort to get to the nub of the problem.

"It's becoming more and more important because we're getting more and more immigrant workers."

The North Yorkshire findings came a week after the TTC Group, Britain's largest provider of court-referred drink rehabilitation schemes, said 11 per cent of attendees were now from Eastern Europe – up from fewer than three per cent a year ago.

And last month the Motor Insurers' Bureau, which handles claims from crashes caused by uninsured drivers, said that the number of claims against Polish drivers had more than tripled in the past two years.

Eastern Europeans caught by roadside breath tests are also twice as likely as the average drink driver to be serious offenders who have at least two-and-a-half times the legal limit of alcohol in their systems.

In spite of alcohol limits being lower in Poland than Britain, tests are sporadic and roads tend to be straight and wide, with the consequence that drink-driving tends to be common.

In Poland people also insure themselves against accidents rather than their cars, so many come to Britain under the impression they are insured for damage if they crash here – which they are not.

Last night a spokeswoman for the Humberside Safety Camera Partnership – responsible for casualty reduction – said it would study the North Yorkshire statistics closely and consider compiling similar research in its area.

Re: Polish Drivers again!

Many driving on polish plates, paying no parking fines, no speeding fines , have no MOT and no insurance.

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A guy rolled his Punto outside a school on the quiet residential lane where I live last night at 7pm.

He must have been doing at least 100 round a blind bend when he lost control and hit the kerb.

Children had been playing nearby moments before and if he'd mounted the kerb he'd have wiped out a young family.

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Effective policing, heavy fines, and cameras would improve the situation.

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Effective policing, heavy fines, and cameras would improve the situation.

How? the numberplate is not on the computer, the driver doesn't speak English. The camera catches thousands of Poles but they never get fined.

I feel like collecting Polish number plates in my area

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Effective policing, heavy fines, and cameras would improve the situation IN POLAND.

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"How? the numberplate is not on the computer, the driver doesn't speak English. The camera catches thousands of Poles but they never get fined."

Do these cars not have car tax discs Dajwid?

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No car tax discs in Poland.

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The drivers Dajwid mentioned are in the UK where you have to have a tax disc to park on a road and where there are checks to ensure this is the case. I've seen cars in London towed away because they have out of date discs.

To get a disc you need to have up to date car insurance and the car details then registered at DVLA. So the drivers concerned have either not been here long or are slipping through the net because of lax checks/an ineffective system.

My personal opinion is that there should be closer monitoring of foreign cars driven in the UK and that thorough checks need to be made at the point of entry. How do cars registered abroad get over here? Via the Eurotunnel? Then there should be a checkpoint there ensuring that tax discs are purchased and insurance details and passport/travel documents of owners/drivers recorded.

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by the way, I've not come Polish registered cars driving any more recklessly than other cars in London. In fact they seem to drive more slowly and carefully and can be annoying for that reason. The worst drivers are sales reps usually in BMWs registered in the UK and in London it is Asian women in headscarves (I don't think they can see blind spots properly).

Lorry drivers on motorways have been notoriously bad drivers since I passed my test in 1995. I don't see any difference in this with the influx of East European lorries. Lorries still pull out without bothering to look in their blind spot and expecting other cars to just move out of the way.

This is in no way reflective of the bad driving I've seen in Poland. I blame bad policing (corruption) and lack of adequate road planning/driving test requirements. The country has had a hundredfold increase in cars in the last thirty years so hopefully in time things will improve.

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I'm speaking from extensive driving experience in London as well as various motorways in the UK Angela. I come across plenty of Polish registered cars. They are everywhere in London. I don't go to yorkshire if I can help it. So whatever they say about Poles driving in yorkshire may be true but it is not the case with the Polish registered cars I have come across in areas south of yorkshire.

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" You can only need a tax disc if your car has UK number plates"

That was not my understanding of the system. All the more reason for having checks on entry.

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I'm from Exeter not Yorkshire, and my local newspaper is always full of Polish names for committing traffic offences. Drink driving, speeding, no insurance, etc.

I don't believe that they would behave any differently in London than they do in Poland or elsewhere else in the UK .

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""That was not my understanding of the system. All the more reason for having checks on entry.""

What sort of checks?
You can legally drive any foreign car in the UK without tax and UK insurance for six months.

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"I don't believe that they would behave any differently in London than they do in Poland or elsewhere else in the UK"

road layout and speed of traffic in London is very different than somewhere like exeter. You have all types of everyone driving here hence Poles pale into insignificance compared to other nationalities bad driving.

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"You can legally drive any foreign car in the UK without tax and UK insurance for six months. "

well that explains a lot. They need to change this and also for brits driving in other countries in their own cars. I don't want some uninsured driver hitting me (Polish or otherwise) thank you very much.

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Ania, Poles are crap drivers in Poland, They don't change when they get to London. They never give way, drive too fast, jump lights, overtake on blind bends, don't leave braking distance............
They should need to take another test here.

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Dajwid there are so many bad drivers in London that I have lost count of the incidents you describe. My concern is that you cannot claim compensation if someone is not insured.

I am a very careful and considerate driver by the way (except it seems with psycho cyclists!)

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My reason for the last comment is that I am proof there is no genetic predisposition amongst Poles to drive badly. It is merely a cultural / environmental blip which needs to be sorted by the driving authorities in Poland.

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Maybe if you could drive on the right side of the road like everywhere else in civilized world there would be less accidents.

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Left? Right?

About 34% of the world by population drive on the left, and 66% on the right.

According to arcahaeologists, ancient travellers on horseback generally rode on the left side of the road. As more people are right-handed, horsemen would thus be able to hold the reins with their left hands and keep their right hand free—to offer in friendship to passing riders or to defend themselves with swords, if necessary. This also explains why men's jackets and shirts have the buttons on the right. It was important to be able to reach a weapon inside a cloak, so for a right-handed person, the cloak had the left flap over the right flap and the right hand could easily reach in and grab the weapon.

The first legal reference in Britain to an order for traffic to remain on the left occurred in 1756 with regard to London Bridge. The Highway Act 1773 contained a recommendation that horse traffic should remain on the left and this is enshrined in section 78 of the Highway Act 1835.

In the late 1700s, a shift from left to right took place in countries such as the United States, when teamsters started using large freight wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. The wagons had no driver’s seat, so the driver sat on the left rear horse and held his whip in his right hand. Seated on the left, the driver naturally preferred that other wagons overtake him on the left so that he could be sure to keep clear of the wheels of oncoming wagons. He did that by driving on the right side of the road.

The British, however, kept to the left. They had smaller wagons, and the driver sat on the wagon, usually on the right side of the front seat. From there he could use his long whip in his right hand without entangling it in the cargo behind him. In that position, on the right side of the wagon, the driver could judge the safety margin of overtaking traffic by keeping to the left side of the road. Countries that became part of the British Empire adopted the keep-left rule too, although there were some exceptions. Canada, for example, where the maritime provinces and Vancouver (later to become British Columbia) drove on the left, eventually changed to the right in order to make border crossings to and from the United States easier. Nova Scotia switched to driving on the right on 15 April 1923.

On most early motor vehicles, the driving seat was positioned centrally. Some car manufacturers later chose to place it near the centre of the road to help drivers see oncoming traffic, while others chose to put the driver's seat on the kerb side so that the drivers could avoid damage from walls, hedges, gutters and other obstacles. Eventually the former idea prevailed.

In Europe, the 20th century saw a slow but steady shift from keep-left to keep-right. Portugal switched to the right early in the 20th century. Austria and Czechoslovakia changed to the right when occupied by Nazi Germany at the end of the 1930s, and Hungary followed suit. Sweden changed in 1967 and Iceland in 1968. Today, just four European countries still drive on the left: Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, and Malta. These are all islands, and therefore have no land border with countries that drive on the right.

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Thanks for the history lesson but the botton line is, EVERYWHERE in Europe, North and South America you drive on the right. The places you mentioned that are exceptions are desolate.

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"Maybe if you could drive on the right side of the road like everywhere else in civilized world there would be less accidents. "

Statistically, there are fewer accidents in countries where people drive on the left.

And why should we adopt a Franco-German habit anyway?

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"The places you mentioned that are exceptions are desolate."

India, Australia, South Africa, UK, desolate?

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Not at all. I was referring to Europe and the Americas.

But you’re right, I guess Britain left a huge imprint on its former dominions.

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It would make sense for everyone to drive on the same side of the road (whichever) but it would cost too much to implement due to road design, car design, road signs etc etc. I think they have looked into this in the UK at some point and costed it.

I always thought the whole driving on the right crap was from left being thought of as sinister. I've heard that driving on the right makes more sense (in terms of ergonomics) but have no idea why.

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>>I've heard that driving on the right makes more sense (in terms of ergonomics) but have no idea why.

Perhaps it's to do with the gear lever. I'm left handed, and still don't feel right driving a LHD car (changing gear with my right hand), but I guess for the majority of people (being right handed) it's probably more natural.

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The Uk decided to drive on the otherside to Eastern Europe to stop them stealing our cars.

I have driven LHD cars in the Uk and RHD in Poland and Germany. It really doesn't make too much differnce after a few mins of driving.

Just out of curiosity, Ania how often or how much driving have you actually done in Poland?

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Lots and lots Dajwid.

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So how can you have not noticed that Polish drivers are crap, do you drive with your eyes closed?

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Which comment of mine are you referring to Dajwid?

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I think Ania may be telling porkies about driving lots in Poland

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Neil it is never a good idea to make too many assumptions about someone you have never met

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Also, whilst I am doubtless a very interesting subject to discuss, I suggest the topic of the thread is what we should be discusing not me or my driving history....(careful and considerate though it maybe to all road users save cyclists!)

Re: Polish Drivers again!


Re: Polish Drivers again!

As always Ania, you apear to feel that you have more experience of driving in poland as you have Polish parents.
Many Polish drivers are very bad, there are more killed in Poland than average. They have now moved to the Uk and are killing people. Simple.
In London, Africa or Tumbuk 'bloody' tu, they will still be bad drivers.
I have driven all over Poland in everything from a Fiat 126, to a V12 jag, Bikes, motorbikes, Horses, vans, trucks and even a motorbike and trailer. They are very very bad drivers.
As you say, the problem is insurance! Poles in most cases would not be covered as the green card does not last forever, the car if it has been here for 12months has no MOT. They speed and drink and drive. We get speeding fines, parking tickets........
Only last week in Harlow a trafic warden was trying to give a Polish guy a ticket for parking on a double yellow, the guy suddenly lost his use of English. I was the good samaritan and helped the traffic warden to tell him he had to pay a fine. The warden then said 'no point he won't pay anyway'. Shhok his hand and walked away. The pole and his friends laughed, left the car and went back to work.
I paid £6 for the car park.

Re: Polish Drivers again!

Yes Daywid

Re: Polish Drivers again!

Related news.

Three dead as Polish bus crashes on way to UK

A Polish bus delivering workers to Britain overturned on a French highway this morning killing three people and injuring 25, only a fortnight after 26 Polish pilgrims died in another smash in the French Alps.

The bus careered off the road on the A-16 highway near Dunkirk in heavy rain as its driver attempted to turn into a rest area. Six of the injured, who included teenagers, were reported to be in a serious condition.

The coach party was apparently heading for London from Zamosc, in south east Poland. Polonia Transport, which runs the service, described it as a regular route to ferry Polish workers to the UK and back to visit their families in Poland. A total of 45 people were on the coach.

The smash came a matter of weeks after a coach carrying Polish pilgrims crashed in the French Alps and plunged into a ravine, killing 26 and injuring 24.

"The coach was heading for the service area. It missed its turning and fell over into a ditch," a French police spokesman said.

Polonia Transport said that the German-built vehicle was barely a year old and in mint condition.

"It is a brand new coach, modern. It is still under warranty. It just passed all the necessary tests," Marek Paszt said.

He said three drivers were on board the coach, which was "mainly carrying people who work or are going to work in Britain".

Re: Polish Drivers again!

Equity would demand that an official state of mourning be observed for eight hours.

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Polish move for driving details

A police force has asked the DVLA to provide literature explaining driving regulations in Polish, after a spate of unregistered vehicles appeared.
The move came after police in Yeovil noticed an increasing number of vehicles which did not comply with law.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokeswoman said: "It's becoming increasingly common for Polish people to bring cars with them from Poland.

"Many don't realise that after six months they must be registered."

She added: "They must also be taxed and have an MOT and appropriate insurance.

"Some Polish drivers are also having difficulty getting to grips with our parking regulations."


Re: Polish Drivers again!

All the poles that I know, know that they should register, 'why should we, nobody checks'

Sadly that is true.

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They should have a register of all foreign cars entering the UK so that they can check up on them. The DVLA should make an effort to sort this problem because they are losing road tax revenue. As there is no system there is no incentive for these irresponsible people to register their cars and hence nobody forces them to pay insurance. Which means that on top of paying my own insurance I end up paying a premium because of accidents from uninsured drivers like these.

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I would only do that if they drive into me and have no insurance. My local area has parking permits for which you need a car registration document. I come across such cars in shopping centres etc.

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I think cars have to be registered in the UK to get a parking permit. So this limits where such cars can park in areas like London. I wonder how the congestion charge works on them. They must surely escape being fined.

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According to The Economist latest ‘World in Figures’ (www.economist.com), in the “most deaths in road accidents” section, Poland ranks 29th, followed by Portugal and the United States. Rankings are determined by number of people killed per 100,000 population.

Top 10 are:

1. Botswana
2. United Arab Emirates
3. Malaysia
4. Oman
5. Russia
6. Swaziland
7. Gabon
8. Latvia
9. Saudi Arabia
10. Lithuania

Looks like Poland is not a bad place to drive after all.

Re: Polish Drivers again!

Mike it is unfortunately quite high in Poland in relation to other European countries. This is when it is based on data where you take into account the number of car owners there are relative to population size etc. Lithuania is higher though. I think this is down to poor policing of road safety and a corrupt police force,coupled with poor town planning. Any drivers also take on the local aggressive style of driving much as they do in South London for example or the M6 where people drive completely differently from other areas. It's the same as with mobile phones in the UK. I see people driving with these all the time and it is not being properly policed.

When Poles come to the UK they tend to drive much more carefully because they are for a start driving on the left, on unfamiliar roads, and from what I have heard without insurance(!). If the recent spate of UK accidents is anything to go by then they are either getting more relaxed or those who did not have cars to start with, are buying them are a long time not driving. A good start in the UK would be to register any foreign cars on entry and ensure anyone staying for more than a holiday takes an additional test before they are let loose.

As for what they can do in Poland...it would cost a fortune to put right the bad habits of the last 17 years. Much as it did in the UK with all the advertising, town redesign and policing in the 70s/80s.

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inquest recently on polish guy who moved to live in my hometown in ireland. he was heading home to krakow for some holidays - driving to dublin airport for a direct flight.
and what does he do? tanks himself to 3 times the legal limit before setting off.
does anyone understand this behaviour? i'm failing miserably.
at least he didn't hurt anyone else as he sailed off into the field when the road went left and he didn't.

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Yes stupid and irresponsible behaviour claire, but this situation is not limited to Polish drivers.

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of course it's not - but it's refreshing to have a whole new country to grumble about. makes a change for the northern irish folk, it does - no longer are "Staters" The Worst Drivers Ever

I'll still say that in my opinion, Canada was the Most Civilised and Poland the Least Civilised of any countries I've driven in.

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"... Poland (is) the Least Civilised of any countries I've driven in."


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Aleje Jerozolimskie (East-West main road in central warsaw)is without trams this summer (they're replacing the line). To ease the situation (there are traffic problems there all year round) the city has laid on many extra buses to replace the trams, and to ensure they don't get stuck behind lines of cars, has designated a bus lane.

The problem is that the bus lane is constantly filled with cars, leaving a situation where a couple of buses carrying about a hundred people each has to crawl along behind a line of cars each with one person in.

Somebody (who drives in the bus lane) said to me that if people followed the rules of the road their journeys would take longer, so they don't. Nobody here thinks there's anything wrong with that.

The police occasionally set up patrols to catch errant drivers, but they are visible from a few hundred yards away, and just cause a great jam as motorists squeeze their way into the correct, legal, lane.

One upshot is that a simple public transport journey of less than a mile is about as fast as walking. Strange.

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Just as I suspected - bad town planning and poor policing.

They have created a similarly impractical arrangement on the M4 into London. A bus lane that forces traffic into two lanes on one of the busiest thoroughfares into town. A 40/50mph limit for miles of what should be a 70mph motorway. This of course causes motorists to try to cheat by sneaking into the bus lane, speed etc. However, to get around this (and the fact that our police are busy fighting terrorism instead of common or garden crime) they have another wonderful invention in the UK - speed cameras! Have they not introduced them to Poland yet? We also have *ta-da!* speed bumps (also known as sleeping policemen or "traffic calming" devices - a little tongue in cheek humour by someone...).

So basically Poland needs a little traffic calming and big brother and everyone will be driving perfectly!

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>>We also have *ta-da!* speed bumps

well ... gdansk has cobbles in many side streets and I've yet to see the locals slow down noticably ...

i remember the car-sharing lane on highway 1 in vancouver .. had to be policed continually to stop drivers without passengers sneaking into it - or even to notice the plastic dummies pretending to be passengers

p.s. i personally think polish society depends too much on 'enforcement' and not enough on teaching people to be "good citizens" in a proactive manner. it was like a breath of fresh air to meet a "please keep x tidy" sign this summer rather than the usual "it is forbidden ..."

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i personally think polish society depends too much on 'enforcement' and not enough on teaching people to be "good citizens" in a proactive manner

So so true!!!

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Well I don't know how many members visited Poland during the communist era but that's where this enforcement attitude stems from. Maybe the populace are rebelling against 50 years of being told what to do or end up in prison for non compliance.

Easy to knock Poland's lack of progress into the real world, but it takes a long time to shake off a system that controlled all parts of society. You were not even allowed to walk on grass in parks in those days.

Hopefully the people who do go back will, as someone said on another thread, breathe some fresh air into the attitudes. It takes time and they seem to be learning the hard way.

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As a driver I am not particularly impressed with this state of affairs. I thought this info was in the consulate leaflet which was the topic of much debate a couple of months back :


A Carmarthenshire magistrate has called for Polish immigrants in the
county to become more road-savvy.The call comes after a series of
insurance-related incidents involving Polish drivers.

Speaking at the case of Robert Jozef Smuzniak, who pleaded guilty to
driving without insurance, magistrate Nigel Harrison-Rees said: "You
should have been given more information on the laws of this country
when you arrived."

Mr Harrison-Rees said he believed more information needed to be
given to newcomers to the county about UK driving insurance law.

He told an interpreter: "I suggest he goes and tells his friends
they must be individually insured."

Several cases of Poles with no car insurance have come before county
magistrates over the past 12 months.

In Poland, it is the vehicle that is insured as opposed to the
individual driver, as in this country.

Prosecutor Jennifer Lewis said Smuzniak, aged 24, of King Street,
Carmarthen, collided with the side of a stationary bus in Lammas
Street while pulling out of a parking space on July 14.

When police did checks with Polish officers they found the car was
insured in Poland.

Defence solicitor Jocelyn Collen said: "Mr Smuzniak was driving his
friend's Ford Escort and had been to the launderette in Lammas

"Having no insurance was a genuine mistake on his behalf."

Smuzniak, an employee at Dunbia processing in Llanybydder, was fined
£250, told to pay £35 costs, six points were put on his licence and
he is to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

Dyfed-Powys Police constable Dave White, based in Llanelli, said one
way of improving the understanding of UK law in the Polish
communities would be to target larger employers.

He added: "We are working closely with the Polish Centre here in
Llanelli's Park Street, and there is a welcome pack given to
families and individuals.

"However, one way we could be getting over the message is by going
into the larger employers of Polish people in the area.

"It is important that everyone is educated about insuring themselves
on our roads."

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Hi all,

Very relevant topic for me.
Just came back from Poland today.
I left Poland (Koszalin) yesterday morning at 8 am.
I found a hotel in Antwerp at about 1 am this morning, left again at nine and got the the midday ferry back to Dover - i am so knackered.

If I am honest I was too tired to drive safely last night.
I am sure that many drivers just keep on driving through the night rather than pay for a hotel.
I was on my own so couldnt swap with a co driver.
You cant drive safely when you are so tired. its as bad as drinking.

Also i noticed that as the ferry was unloading, a young Polish guy had fallen asleep in his car as he was waiting the 10 minutes for the ship to unload. The driver of the car behind had to tap on his window to wake him up.
I also noticed that on the Ferry (norfolk line) there were about 30 British people a few frenchies,hundreds of Poles and for the first time I saw dozens of Romanians and Bulgarians.
I have been out of the country for over two months - wasn't sure if I was back in Britain...

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"Also i noticed that as the ferry was unloading, a young Polish guy had fallen asleep in his car as he was waiting the 10 minutes for the ship to unload."

Yes but Jake that's not really fair - you said yourself that you were knackered.

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Sorry im not being judgmental, i will admit that I shouldnt have been driving myself - just observations.
There are plenty of homegrown idiot drivers here in the Uk as well.
I have been in Finland for 5 weeks and in Poland for about a month (good mix of order and chaos) - always feel a bit sad coming back here.
I think there are must a lot of lonely Poles here in the UK - those who are working here while the family stays at home..
Anyway enough rambling - time for some sleep..

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I fell asleep at the wheel once - mind you I was stuck on the German-Polish border (heading east) for 16 hours ...
Oh the good ol' days

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Polish driver follows GPS directions into lake

A Polish driver who was too sure of his GPS road navigation device ended up neck-deep in a lake after ignoring road signs warning of a dead-end ahead, Polish police said Friday.

"The man took a road that was closed a year ago when the area was flooded to make an artificial lake serving as a water reservoir -- he ignored three road signs warning of a dead-end," Piotr Smolen, police spokesman in Glubczyce, southern Poland, told AFP Friday.

"It was still night time and he didn't notice the road led into the lake. His GPS told him to drive straight ahead and he did," Smolen said, adding the driver had not been under the influence of alcohol.

The road ran straight downhill into the lake. The Mercedes mini-van was nearly entirely submerged and was unable to back out on its own after being inundated with water.

The driver and two passengers escaped unharmed from the submerged vehicle and waited on its roof for police and fire rescue crews.

The driver placed the first call to emergency services while still inside the sinking van.


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Shouldn't laugh, but this is really funny!