Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in the Czech Republic, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Czech Republic is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Road fatalities in the Czech Republic in 2011 were at their lowest level since 1947, according to Czech safety experts, but caution should be exercised while driving. Driving speeds on European highways are higher than in the United States, and drivers are expected to stay in the right lane except when passing. Highways in the Czech Republic generally meet European standards; however, on two-lane roads, drivers should be prepared to encounter uneven surfaces, irregular lane markings, and sign placements that are not clear. Streets in towns are not always in good condition. You should pay special attention to driving on cobblestone and among streetcars in historic city centers, especially in wet or icy conditions. Traffic lights are placed before the intersection, so be aware of where you stop at signaled intersections. Speed limits are 50 km/h in towns, 90 km/h outside of towns, and 130 km/h on highways, but drivers routinely flout the limits. An International Driving Permit (IDP), available from AAA (in the United States only), must accompany a U.S. driver’s license; failure to have the IDP with a valid license may result in denial of an insurance claim after an accident.
Persons driving into the Czech Republic should be aware that a toll sticker is required to drive legally on major highways. Signs stating this requirement are posted near the border, but are easy to miss. The stickers are available at most gas stations. The fine for failing to display a toll sticker is assessed on the spot.
Czech law requires that drivers have their headlights on at all times when driving in the Czech Republic. The law also requires that all private cars, including those of foreign visitors, carry each of the following items: fluorescent green high visibility safety jacket, first aid kit, spare pair of prescription glasses kept in the glove compartment (if necessary), warning triangle, and complete set of spare bulbs.
Czech law allows for breathalyzer testing of drivers stopped by local law enforcement officials for any reason. There is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and driving; driving with any trace of detected alcohol, however slight, is illegal and those caught usually face immediate fines and possible criminal proceedings.
U.S. citizens have reported instances of motorists stopped on the shoulders of highways waving at drivers as if they needed assistance. Some drivers have reported being pressured into giving money to the person who has purportedly broken down, and it was unclear in those situations if the motorist was truly in need or trying to scam those who stopped to offer assistance.
For specific information concerning Czech requirements for driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Czech Tourist Authority offices in New York by telephone at (212) 288-0830 or by email. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Czech Republic’s national tourist office and the Ministry of Transport.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.