I have been driving in the United States since I was 16 years old. So what could be so hard about driving in the Czech Republic? One of the major challenges for me was driving in the snow and ice. Living in Texas, I didn’t have to deal with any snow or ice. I was a bit apprehensive about driving in the winter but with a little practice I felt comfortable to get on the roads. I definitely recommend reading about all the different driving laws.
A few important things to remember:
- Legal driving age is 18
- You are required to have a zero blood alcohol level when driving. Remember this when trying to drive early in the morning after a long night of drinking
- You are required to have your lights on at all times
- You must have an official first aid kit in the car. You can get them at any service station for about 300Kc
- Seat belt must always be fastened in the front and back. Children up to 12 years of age must not be in the front seat
- You may not turn right on a red light
- Pedestrians have a right of way on all marked crossings
If you are traveling outside the city on the Czech highways you must purchase a highway sticker to put on your windshield. You can purchase an annual (1,200Kc), monthly (350Kc) or 10-day (250Kc) sticker. This website has up to date information about the Czech highways.
Getting fuel may also be a bit confusing for someone coming from the States. Standard unleaded fuels are called Natural 91 and Natural 95. Increased performance unleaded is Natural 98. Diesel is from the BLACK or BLUE pump and may also be known as NAFTA. Petrol in Czech is called Benzín. Credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, AMEX) are accepted at most station but not all so bare that in mind before you are filling up.
Driving in Prague city center could also be very challenging. Especially, with all the construction going on. The biggest hazard you will face are the trams and buses. They have the right of way most of the time. They usually warn you by ringing your bell but can be pretty ruthless so watch out. Parking in the city center can be tough as well. In most places in Prague 1 you will see a solid blue line on the road which indicates only cars with a permit are allowed to park there. There are a few open parking lots around the center with automatic payment machines. To name a few: opposite the State Opera, by Rudolfinum (access at the rear of building), National Theater, and Palladium shopping center.
There are many speed traps all around. It is usually indicated by a sign that there is a camera, in this case you definitely need to slow down to the speed limit. Also remember that when driving through the Czech country side, as you enter a village the speed limit is always 50 km.
If you happen to be driving and decided to have a few drinks before heading home, there are a few driving services that will drive you home in your car and you only pay one-way. Two guys show up to pick you up, one drives your car and the other follows.
Even though there is so much information, it is really not that bad driving in the Czech Republic. I’ve been driving here for 2 years and I am still alive :)