Prague Twin

Monday, August 07, 2006

Point System

On July 1st of this year, the Czech Republic introduced a driving point sytem to try and curb the excessive death toll on Czech highways. Prior to this, a driver could get as many tickets as he or she wanted, and there was no fear of increased insurance rates or losing one's licence. Therefore, rich guys drove as fast and as crazy as the wanted with no fear other than of a nominal fee.

The Czech's have had one of the highest motorway death rates in Europe. It has been gradually decreasing year on year, but the Czech highways were still quite deadly. Experience on the road backs up the numbers. I have seen more stupid moves and accident scenes here than pretty much anywhere I have traveled. In Moscow, they drove crazier, but they didn't seem to hit each other much. Not the case here.

But everything changed about a month ago. There is a new calm on the highway, and I have yet to see an accident. I have heard that the statistics are showing a rapid drop in accidents and fatalities.

Have the police been enforcing the existing laws any more strigently? Not at all. In this society, it is enough just to make the rule. Just like when pedestrians got the right of way in the crosswalk, the behavior of the motorists changed literally overnight.

With regards to the pedestrian law change I had asked, "how will they enforce it?" This time around I knew better. The cautious and practical Czechs now drive in a way that matches their personality.



10 Comments:

  • I don't think I could get around in a car in Europe. I suck at directions and I am pretty sure I would be one of those idiots you see smashing into other cars

    By Blogger GraemeAnfinson, at 8:57 PM  

  • It never fails to amaze me that people can fail to see a situation which threatens their very life but react to one which threatens inconvenience.
    Even that wears off to the stage where points must be doubled or tripled to get the attention back.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 10:33 PM  

  • This quick change from a maniac road warrior to an obedient model motorist, according the new rules, seems to follow a pattern in the Czech Republic. There has been earlier suprises, though. The Praque Spring and the uprising was generlly concidered as an impossiblity because of the way the Czechs usually tend to conduct their business.

    Your observations of the country and her people are delightful and, as far as I can tell, accurate. More the same, please!

    By Anonymous Pekka, at 12:08 AM  

  • Graeme,

    The only thing harder than driving in Europe is driving in Europe on the left side of the road. I had a rental car in Ireland for the weekend and it was one of the more challenging things I've done in the last decade.

    Carledge,

    As usual you have hit in on the head. Fear of losing one's licence supersedes the fear of a violent death. It amazes me too, but there it is. I've come close to dragging people out of their cars in response to their idiocy.

    Pekka,

    Yea, uprising. 250,000 people took to the main square and they, they, .... shook their keys! Thats right, they shook their keys so hard the sound could be heard at least two tram stops away. Then, they rallied around sounding points like, "thank you, please go home." The wrath of the Czechs is one that few can withstand.

    Having said that, they have their breaking point. The Prague Spring was crushed with little incident save a pair of misguided students pulling the Vietnam-Buddhist-Monk style self-conflagration. But when the Russians beat up the students in '89, well, that was going to far, and the people reacted without restraint. People were shaking their keys who you never expected to do such things.

    Madness. Pandemonium.

    The Russians, for their part, understood that if 250,00 Czechs were shaking their keys in the air, it was serious. Better to just get the hell out.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 1:09 AM  

  • Hehe, a Czech with clinking keyes = a rattlesnake with a rattling rattle. Tumbling tumbleweeds, did I make any sense?

    By Anonymous pekka, at 4:40 AM  

  • Yes. The sarcasm is clear.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:41 AM  

  • What an interesting subject. Europeans are better drivers as a whole?

    By Blogger dusty, at 10:14 AM  

  • Dusty,

    Unfortunatley, no. They kill each other on the highways to a much greater degree than do Americans.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:46 PM  

  • Praquetwin,

    You are only half right by suggesting that Europeans kill each other in bigger numbers than Yanks. There are a few obvious reasons why some ex satellites to the U.S.S.R. have horrendous accident statistics; new motoring culture with badly designed roads and less safe vehicles. In Finland and especially in Sweden, the accident rates are lower today than forty years ago when there were tens of thousands fewer cars around.

    By Anonymous pekka, at 12:41 AM  

  • Ok, most of Europe. And really I should only speak for the Czechs who are atrocious.

    If you figure accidents per mile driven, the U.S. actually has the lowest rate in the world.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:17 AM  

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