Czech police launch new safety campaign aimed at getting foreigners to heed the rules of Czech roads

Across Europe, a foreign driver is more than three times more likely to commit a driving offense

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 17.09.2020 12:05:18 (updated on 17.09.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

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Traffic police will focus on making foreign drivers more aware of the rules of the road in the Czech Republic. Last year, foreigners caused 7,689 traffic accidents on Czech roads, in which 48 people died. This is 9% of the total number of accident victims in the Czech Republic last year.

The Czech Republic’s location in the center of Europe makes it a transit country for foreign drivers, and many of them are unfamiliar with Czech driving rules or choose to ignore them.

“Adherence to the rules of the road, balance, foresight and consideration for other road users should be automatic for the driver every time they get behind the wheel at home and abroad,” Zuzana Pidrmanová, head of prevention at the Police Presidium of the Czech Republic, said at the opening of the European Mobility Week, which will run throughout the EU until September 22.

Of the total number of traffic accidents caused in 2019 by foreign nationals, in 59.5% of cases the main cause was the general category of incorrect driving (4,574 traffic accidents). In 22% of cases it was not giving right of way (1,692 traffic accidents), another 16.9% was due to speeding. Accidents caused by alcohol accounted for 6.9% (529 traffic accidents) and 1.6% were caused by incorrect overtaking (124 traffic accidents).

“One of the main causes of offenses committed by foreign drivers is often the feeling of impunity. Many people think that when they go abroad, they are not affected by the rules there. The willingness to follow the rules of the road is also influenced by the habits prevailing on the roads in the homeland of foreign motorists,” Roman Budský from the Vision Zero international road traffic safety project said.

An information campaign will help to combat drivers’ ignorance of road rules. Police officers will distribute information leaflets on the main traffic conditions in the Czech Republic in English, German and Polish to foreign drivers who are stopped during traffic checks on roads or during preventive events at the border. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent electronic materials to all embassies.

Part of the information campaign is also aimed at Czech drivers, and a basic overview of road traffic rules in a Czech version will be distributed.

“There are numerous differences between countries in a number of provisions regulating the behavior of road users. Examples are the maximum permitted speed limits, the maximum permissible amount of alcohol in the blood of drivers, rules for the use of child car seats or the creation of an ambulance lane,” Libor Budina from Autoklub ČR said.

road safety pamphlet
Detail of the English version of the road safety pamphlet / via

The figures for the Czech Republic were not exceptional in Europe. In Luxembourg, foreigners commit about 30% of all registered traffic offenses and are responsible for almost a quarter of fatal road accidents. In France, they are responsible for up to a quarter of traffic offenses in border areas, and 15% inland.

Figures for speeding show that foreign drivers in France account for an average of one-quarter of incidents, and during the tourist season this share increases to one half. In Austria, foreign drivers are responsible for every sixth offense committed, in the Netherlands every tenth. In Switzerland foreign drivers account for 15% of the total amount of traffic, but half of the offenses committed. The European Commission states that a foreign driver is more than three times more likely to commit an offense than a domestic driver.

On average, 63 percent of EU drivers do not keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them. The French pay the least attention to keeping their distance from each other (76%).

Prague will also join the European Mobility Team as part of ROADPOL Security Days. Statues of angels will be exhibited for the third time in Prague 2’s Zítkovy sady to draw attention to the victims of pedestrian traffic accidents. There will be 25 statues symbolizing the 25 victims of Prague traffic accidents in 2018 and the eight killed in 2019.

The information material can be downloaded from the website of the Czech Police, as well as Vision Zero and the Czech Autoklub.

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