Changes in 2021 and 2022
The Road Traffic Law in Poland is often an amended act. Amendments to the regulations concerning drivers and other road users come into force even several times a year. This was the situation in 2021 and it will be similar in the next year. What changes in the road law has already been introduced? But also, what is still waiting for us in the upcoming months?
Most of 2021 is behind us. Changes to the law, scheduled for this year, partially entered into force in the first half of the year. It is worth mentioning, that from May and June new regulations apply to:
- Electric scooters and similar devices
- New speed limits regulations
- Maintaining spaces between vehicles on highways and expressways
- Giving way to pedestrians
- Obligations of pedestrians near the road
- What else could change before the end of 2021?
- Changes to the law will enter into force in 2022
Electric scooters, personal transport devices and movement support devices powered by muscle work
The Highway Code from May 20th, is updated by the following definitions:
- electric scooter,
- personal transport devices,
- movement support device powered by muscle work.
Electric scooter – an electrically powered, two-axle vehicle with a steering wheel, without a seat and pedals, structurally intended to be driven only by a driver on the vehicle.(Act of June 20th, 1997, Road Traffic Law, Art. 2, point 47b.)
What are the regulations?
People riding an electric scooter should drive along the bicycle lane at a speed not exceeding 20 km / h. The exception is when a scooter user has to drive along a road with a speed limit of 30 km / h, where there is no bicycle path. Then it can move on the road. However, if the speed limit on this road is greater than 30 km / h, the owner of the scooter should be on the pedestrian road and use it to reach the destination, but with extreme caution, adjusting the speed to the speed of pedestrians walking on the pavement and giving way to them, if necessary.
Bearing in mind the provision of the definition of an electric scooter, you can travel on it alone, without additional people, animals and loads. Nor can it pull another vehicle. Underage owners of electric scooters need the appropriate permissions to be able to use this equipment. In this case, the driving license of categories AM, A1, B1 and T, as well as a bicycle card are honored. Here you can read more about Driving License in Poland (click). Limited use of scooters from May 20 applies to children under 10 years of age, who can ride this type of two-wheelers only in the residential area and under an adult supervision.
And what obligations towards scooter users will rest on drivers of other vehicles? First of all, it should be noted that when overtaking an electric scooter, drivers should keep at least 1 m distance from the vehicle. Similar rules apply to overtaking owners of personal transport devices and traffic aids.
These regulations are created on the base of multiple accidents caused by electric scooter riders who did not adjust the speed and attention to the situation on the road or on pedestrians path. In many cases, not only riders were injured. Multiple accidents were involving regular pedestrians, who were the victim’s of reckless electric scooter drivers.
Owners of personal transport devices with similar regulations as electric scooter users
Personal transport device – an electrically powered vehicle, with the exception of an electric scooter, without a seat and pedals, structurally designed to be moved only by the driver on the vehicle.(Act of June 20th, 1997, Road Traffic Law, Art. 2, point 47c.)
Owners of personal transport devices are obliged to comply with the same regulations that apply to users of electric scooters. Additionally, they are forbidden to cling to other vehicles to move with them. This actually means, that clinging a car as in Tony Hawk Pro Skater is officially prohibited.
Devices that support movement powered by muscle work will go down the sidewalk!
Movement support device – a device or sports and recreational equipment, intended for the movement of a person in a standing position, driven by the strength of the muscles.(Act of June 20th, 1997, Road Traffic Law, Art. 2, point 18a.)
This is the definition of the third group of mobility devices, recently defined in the Highway Code. Owners of assistive movement devices may move primarily:
- on a sidewalk or pedestrian path, with extreme caution, where they should adjust the speed to the speed of pedestrians and, if necessary, give way to them,
- on the road for bicycles, where traffic will be on the right.
If you would like to cross the street using such a device, you should use the pedestrian crossing or a crossing for cyclists. Owners of assistive motion devices are required to move at a speed that will allow them to control their device. You should not grab onto other vehicles, drive backwards, haul loads and other people, tow and, of course, you should not use the equipment while being under the influence of alcohol.
Changes to speed limits for drivers – Road Traffic Law in Poland
From June 1 – new speed limits for night travelers came into force. The possibility of driving at a speed of 60 km / h between 23:00 and 5:00 has been abolished, thus harmonizing the limit to 50 km / h throughout the whole/full day.
Determination of the minimum distance between vehicles on expressways and motorways
Also on June 1st, driving on a bumper was legally restricted. Drivers driving on highways and expressways are required to keep a distance from the vehicle in front of them. It has been specified that this distance should correspond to at least half the speed at which the vehicle is traveling (in meters). How does it look in practice?
The driver is driving along the highway at a speed of 120 km/h. Therefore, he should maintain a distance of at least 60 meters from the car in front of him.
The distance to be kept to the vehicle in front, can be determined, for example, by road-side bollards that are set every 100 m.
Changing the rules on giving way to pedestrians – Road Traffic Law in Poland
From June 1st, new regulations require drivers to be even more careful near pedestrian crossings. Before the amendment, it was the driver’s responsibility to give way to pedestrians who were already on the lanes. From June, you as a driver should also stop at the front of the pedestrians crossing and give way to those who are just entering the road.
Pedestrian restrictions near the lanes
Being cautious and careful around lanes doesn’t just apply to drivers. Pedestrians should also show greater responsibility as they approach the road. This applies primarily to resigning from using mobile phones and similar devices in this area, which distract a pedestrian traffic user, and thus pose a greater risk to both: him and others. I am presenting below a 30 seconds movie created by Kraków City Roads Authority, which is slightly brutal, but hits the nail on the head. In other words: it justifies decisions from this paragraph without a single word.
What else could change before the end of 2021? Road Traffic Law in Poland
- Speeding by 30 km / h and more will result in a fine of 1,500 zł. Re-committing this offense within 2 years from the imposition of the first fine will be punished with a fine of 3,000 zł
- Driving without the appropriate driving license will result in a fine of 1,000 zł, arrest or restriction of liberty. Re-committing this offense within 2 years from the imposition of the first fine will be punished with a fine of 2,000 zł.
- Driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol or other intoxicants will result in a fine of 2,500 zł or imprisonment.
- Driving a vehicle being under influence of alcohol, which is not a motor vehicle, will be punishable by a fine of 1,000 zł. It includes riding scooters powered by electric energy as well as these powered by muscles.
- Penalty from 2,000 zł for offenses within the area of railway crossings, e.g. bypassing barriers or half-barriers, entering the crossing while leaving the gates (or while lifting them), entering the crossing when there is no room for another vehicle behind it.
- Bringing a threat to pedestrians, e.g. overtaking at a pedestrian crossing, will result in a fine of 1,500 zł. Re-committing this offense within 2 years from the imposition of the first fine will be punished with a fine of 3,000 zł.
- Raising the maximum fine in ticket proceedings to PLN 5,000 PLN (or up to PLN 6,000, if there are multiple offenses).
In addition to changes in the amount of fines for driver offences, a number of others are also planned.
- Raising the maximum fine in the Petty Offenses Code to 30,000 PLN (currently the maximum amount is 5,000 zł).
- Collection of receivables for unpaid fines and tickets, from PIT tax refund.
- Falsification of tachograph readings by road carriers will result in the withdrawal of the driving license for 3 months.
- At one time, a policeman will be able to impose a maximum of 15 penalty points on a driver (currently, it is possible to impose a maximum of 10 penalty points during one stop).
- Penalty points can be canceled at the earliest 2 years after the payment of the imposed fine.
- Facilitating the granting of a pension to the relatives of the victim who died as a result of a road accident.
- Insurers will have access to the CEPiK database, and thus to information about the driver’s offences, penalties, fines and penalty points. Insurance companies will be able to make the amount of the insurance premium proposed to drivers dependent on the number and seriousness of the offences they have committed and the number of penalty points.
- The list of new regulations is not closed yet, so it may be supplemented with additional points. It is already known that there may be a penalty for driving sideways and street racing.
The entry into force of the amendment introduced in the above-mentioned text, there are other possible changes to the road law, are scheduled for 1st December 2021. That is not all. Since officials from polish government are planning even more changes in the near future.
These changes to the law will enter into force in 2022 – Road Traffic Law in Poland
Further changes are planned for the beginning of 2022. Then, it will be possible to temporarily withdraw the vehicle from traffic and leave the registration number of the vehicle used by the previous owner of the car. There are plans for the second half of the year to abolish the obligation to issue a vehicle card and a control sticker.
Leaving the registration number of a used car
In August 2021, a provision was announced that would allow the buyer of a used vehicle to leave the registration number used by the previous owner of the car. This is very convenient for you and your savings. The number will be the same even if the vehicle was previously registered in a completely different province. Keeping the same registration will allow leaving the same plates and control sticker, which will save the buyer about PLN 100 on registration cost.
I actually had a pleasure to test this solution in Netherlands and England, where cars are getting one set of registration plates for a whole life cycle. I can say, that this makes registering of a car much easier and faster. If you would like to know more about registering a car in Poland, I encourage you to read this article (click) published on my blog few months back.
Temporary withdrawal of the vehicle from traffic
Drivers waited a long time for the possibility of a temporary withdrawal of a vehicle from traffic. They will be given this opportunity next year. However, it should be noted that a passenger car can be deregistered only in specific cases. This privilege will be available to owners of cars that are disabled, for example, the supporting structure of which was damaged in an accident. The break in use, and thus the period of temporary deregistration of the vehicle, may last from 3 to 12 months. In order for the car to be brought back into service after repairs, it will have to undergo an inspection.
Temporary deregistration of the vehicle will allow you to save a bit, because the insurer will have to return a significant part of the insurance cost paid for this period for the time of deregistration in order to repair the vehicle. This law is expected to enter into force on January 31st, 2022.
Resignation from the vehicle card and control sticker
Also, on 4th September 2022, it is planned to resign from issuing vehicle cards and control stickers, which are now stuck to the windshield of the vehicle. Exempting drivers from having these elements is justified by the difficulties in replacing the windshield (regarding the control sticker) and the availability of all data from the vehicle card in a digital version (CEPiK – regarding the vehicle card).
Summary of Road Traffic Law in Poland
That is all, as we talk about newest Highway code changes. All of these things are made in order to drive safer in Poland. I can say from my side, that during the time, when I was living in Netherlands, I was driving definitely less aggressively, which from my perspective was also safer. After I came back to Poland, some of the bad habits resubmerged as well. Some time back, I was asking myself what is the reason for it? I think that, there is a saying which provides a proper explanation of such behavior. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Therefore I think, that such changes and higher fines are necessary to reduce reckless behavior on the road but also to reduce the accident rate on polish roads.
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Special thanks to Eamon Gosney, who has helped with proofreading of this article.