Driving a Car in Prague
The evil Prague drivers
Czech drivers in general are not among the best in the world and the rates of car accidents are not something the Czechs are proud of. Prague drivers are among the worst Czech drivers, as they are usually stressed and in a rush (and there is a higher concentration of big cars and big egos in Prague than in other Czech regions). This is magnified by the dense traffic, especially in peak hours of working days.
The golden rule of driving applies in Prague as anywhere else: Assume that the other drivers are bad and stupid and expect them to fail giving you priority even when they should. Be defensive.
Driving and trams in Prague
There is another rule that applies in the streets of Prague: Tram is the king. Prague has a dense tram network and in most parts of the city tram tracks are embedded in the street. If you are driving in the centre of Prague, there are a few things you should know about trams.
Parking anywhere on tram tracks is prohibited (even for “a few minutes”). You will most likely have your car towed away and pay a hefty fine.
When a tram stops at a stop situated in the middle of the street, you must stop too. It is prohibited to overtake the tram on the right side in this case, as that area is reserved for the passengers getting on and off the tram.
When you drive in the same direction as a tram and you must get on the tram tracks, the tram always has priority.
On the crossings which include tram traffic, follow the traffic lights as usual. Trams have devices for communicating with the traffic lights and they can “create” a green light for themselves and a red light for you. But you only care about the lights.
The priority of pedestrians in Prague
In cases when tram is not the king, the pedestrian is. According to Czech laws, you must always stop and let the pedestrians cross the street on a marked pedestrian crossing if you see them waiting there or showing intention to cross the street.
Many drivers in Prague ignore this rule. Don’t be like them. A fine can’t be excluded if a policeman sees you not letting somebody cross the street.
From the other perspective, if you are the pedestrian and want to cross a street, do it on a marked crossing, but still watch out twice and rather expect the car that is approaching will not stop and will not let you go. Trying to make eye contact with the driver before you enter the crossing is advisable.
One way streets
In some areas of Prague, especially in the inner city, there are many streets where car traffic is either entirely prohibited or allowed only in one direction. These can make you really depressed if you are trying to find your way and reach such sign when you are almost there.
There is no advice for this. You either know the area or you don’t. A GPS can help. In any case, be prepared for the city centre being less friendly towards cars and if you really don’t need to drive there, leave your car at a P+R parking place at a metro station outside the centre.
P+R and K+R parking
Like other big cities Prague makes an effort to keep most cars outside the centre and promote public transport instead. There are several Park and Ride parking places at metro stations outside the city centre. They are well signed from major roads and highways. Using them will save you stress and time. See more information about Prague P+R parking and P+R parking locations.
Besides P+R parking, there are also Kiss and Ride (K+R) areas, where you can stop your car for 5 minutes and drop somebody to metro or pick somebody up.