Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to drive like a Czech , guest poster

Here's a funny article written by a friend of mine last year.

Whether you drive a car or even chance your luck as a pedestrian, you might have noticed way out here that our Czech friends drive in an ever so slightly different manner than we do.
Ours is not to reason why, but to fit in nicely and keep a low profile, as we are the Johnny Foreigners here, so driving like a local will bring you lots of praise from your families, friends and of course other road users.
Before you set off:
Make sure that your exhaust pipe is trailing the ground.
Essential also; check that one of your headlights doesn’t work and the other is constantly on full beam.
Make sure your windows are nice and dirty (steamed up is ok too). Never ever scrape ice of your windows in the winter.
Take a quick look to ensure that you have at least 4 weeks of mud on your number plates. If they’re clean, just take them off and leave them at home.
No really, just take a look around if you don’t believe me.
So we’re almost ready to set off, but before we do, hitch up that rusty old trailer, without electrics.
Speed: well I should tell you now that speed limits are of no consequence whatsoever, just don’t look at them, they’re irrelevant. There are 2 types of driving speeds that are favoured here; breakneck and snails pace (with a very smoky exhaust).
Traffic lights; they do the same colours here as anywhere, but never ever jump the lights, our friendly Police wait at junctions throughout town, watching for that old trick.
When approaching a green light, stop, it’ll probably turn red very soon and people behind will thank you for your caution and foresight When waiting for the lights to turn green, take your time and when they do change, wait until they are just about to turn to amber again, then you can go, you don’t want to be followed, do you..
Road direction signs: there aren’t any.
If it looks like a direction sign, it’s probably something similar, but in the wrong place.
Just take it for granted that all foreigners here get completely lost, Czechs never ever lose their way. When they’re travelling through unknown and signpostless towns, they use telepathy and mindlink with locals to navigate them through unhindered. It’s quite a hard skill to learn, but I’m attending a course next week, and it’s a darn sight cheaper than Satnav.
Indicators; you may think you’re an expert with these, but here in Czech Republic, they have an entirely different purpose, of which I’m completely unsure.
However, I’ve been observing closely and can give you a few pointers.
When turning left or right, give no more than 10 centimetres warning before you start turning, better still, wait until you’ve turned and then indicate. A good tip is, ensure that your indicator bulbs are of very low wattage and blink very quickly (standard on older Skoda’s)
Don’t forget that when you are driving round a gentle curve on the road, let the drivers behind know, by indicating which way the curve is going, they will copy this sign and pass it back. This is best practiced on a busy day with long queues, everyone will start indicating without actually knowing why.
4 way flashers. These are used for double parking on a busy street, it’s amazing, they will render your vehicle completely invisible to the Police, you can park just about anywhere. Try it sometime!
Overtaking; admittedly a strange one this. Here in Czech republic, when you overtake you must indicate left to pass a vehicle and then indicate right, this is to let other road users know that you do not intend to continue the remainder of your journey on the wrong side of the road.
But forget about all that nonsense, just do as the locals do here and indicate right and then move out to the left and pass the pesky vehicle in front.
But beware about overtaking, it’s an unpopular activity. Don’t be surprised if you overtake a Czech travelling very slowly, he then follows you at breakneck speed all the way home.
Being overtaken. If you want to be part of the local scene, just don’t allow it (see above). When you see a car behind wishing to overtake, wait until he’s alongside, drop a gear and put the foot down until you are at a blind curve, better still, until cars are approaching on the other side.
Don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal and everyone does it.
Driving up and down hills. Czechs are caring people and they know that cars get tired driving up hills. Best advice is to be kind to your car and slow down going up that nasty steep hill. A good indication of kindness is when you have a queue of about 9 cars behind, don’t worry, they’re all taking your lead. When you get to the top, it’s pedal to metal, to stop those wicked evil perverted overtakers.
Trams: I’ve just discovered the secret of tram traffic lights, with those funny dots and little lines, They’re in BRAILLE! Yes, you’ve guessed it, all Tram drivers are completely blind. Luckily they are on tracks.
The D1. That wonderfully safe road, with a minimum speed of 300kph. More interesting is the rustic crazy paving laid all the way to just 3km short of Prague.
When on the D1, you’ve probably noticed that the in-crowd never use the Service Stations, they advise us to just stop on the hard shoulder, you can pee and expose yourself to all the passers-by, much more fun.
Lastly however, if you do really need to fill up, make sure that you leave your car at the pump when paying for petrol, buying all those little necessities in the shop, having a nice long lunch and picking a few mushrooms in the adjoining forest. Czechs just love queuing and we have to keep the natives happy, don’t we.


  1. Sorry, should have mentioned, todays post was written by David Fraser over at

  2. Thanks Dave, you've just pushed my blog hits through the roof!