Unsafe at Polish Speeds

One of the weirder things about Poland is that many (or maybe most) people have little sense about just how dangerous driving (and by extension other forms of travel) can be. Also, many (or maybe most) people have no realistic idea about what constitutes safe vs dangerous driving. Culturally, a good driver is by defnition fast (as fast as conditions allow and maybe then some) and doesn’t look around too much. One of the weirder consequences of that is that there is an unusually high rate of traffic accidents involving government figures.

No biggie, just the president’s car careening out of control….

I’m not talking about government figures driving themselves, but rather professional drivers charged with carrying government figure around tend to do stupid reckless things and drive far too fast and so there is a relatively high rate of traffic accidents.

Okay, what idiot put a tree in front of the prime minister’s car?

The latest was just yesterday when a convoy including the prime minister Beata Szydło was blasting through Oświęcim (the town made famous by Auschwitz) and a driver was listening to music and didn’t realize what was going on and almost drove into them. Szydło’s driver swerved to avoid his car…. and ran straight into a tree. Despite assurances that nothing serious had happened to Szydło they made the brilliant decision to transport her by helicopter at night to Warsaw (with apparently more than one unplanned emergency landing).

Even Smolensk can probably be chalked up to recklessness. The president at the time had famously punished a pilot for not wanting to land in dangerous conditions on a visit to Georgia (the country). So the pilot on that day probably felt pressured to try to land even in crappy conditions….

This is one reason I don’t want a car in Poland. US style defensive driving would probably get me killed within a week. I’ve also learned to not pay too much attention to just exactly what taxi drivers are doing and comfort myself with the factoid that people in car accidents often don’t actually remember the accident itself….

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