You were lucky enough to get EURO 2012 match tickets and are planning your trip to Ukraine? Most probably you are assessing several options how to get there, one of which is travelling by car. For sure, this option gives you much more travelling freedom, possibilities to see places of interest, better learn the country and people living there, besides, it’s relatively cheap (if travelling with a company).
OK, go warm up your engine, but let me give you some advice, which can make you laugh and think that I am crazy (I will not be angry about this), but for others it can save money, time and, in some cases, even life.
Do not believe fairy tales of our government that all host cities are connected by highways. That’s a bull shit. Relatively good intercity roads (almost as you used to know them) are only available around big cities in a radius of 50-100 km. This statement, as well as all other rules, has its exceptions, but they do not change the general situation.
When you plan your trip over 400 km, do not expect that your average speed will be over 80 km/h, even if you do not plan to get out of the car during the whole trip. The reasons for that are: bad roads, road marks and direction signs absence, half legal speed limits and some others.
Most of our direction signs are not translated or transliterated into English (this is not only about the roads). So I advise you to learn the meaning and transcription of Cyrillic letters.
If Kiev is not a point of your destination – do not plan to pass it at a day time: the city does not have any road about. The internal half circle, surrounding Kiev on the South, which you can see on your map, is very slow. The best time to pass it 22:00 till 7:00.
Though generally our traffic code is harmonized with international rules you will have to mind some peculiarities of Ukrainian traffic code as follows:
STOP/PARKING is prohibited:
• On railway crossings (STOP), closer than 50 m from RW crossing (PARKING)
• On tram lines;
• On road crossings (including all junctions, splits, yard [filling stations, factories, parking, etc.] entrances and exits) and closer than 10 m from them;
• On bus stops and closer than 30 m from them;
• On and under bridges, on viaducts.
• On crosswalks (zebras) and closer than 10 m from them
• At center separating strip or boulevard
• If the distance between the parked car and solid center line (or opposite side of the road) is under 3 m
• Generally: if your car when parked will make an obstacle or danger for other drivers or walkers
There are not so many special parking areas on our roads, so you will have to pay attention to this matter any way.
The following speed limits are set in Ukraine:
• In towns marked with white background signs like this: -
• On all other roads (including towns marked with blue background signs):
o Busses, transporting groups of children; passenger cars with trailers; and bikes –
o All cars driven by the persons under 2 years ofv driving experience –
o Busses (except mini busses, which havev up to 17 seats including driver) –
o All the others: - On highways marked with (autobahn sign) sign –
- On the roads with separation strip having 2 or more lanes in each direction –
- On all other roads –
You have to know that speeding up to 20 km/h above the limit is not a subject to fine (you can drive 75-78 km/h in a town and will not attract much of attention as most drivers do the same).
According to our rules:
OVERTAKING is the maneuver of passing another vehicle,
by entering the lane used for opposite direction traffic
. From this definition you can see that any passing within your direction road side cannot be treated as overtaking.
Overtaking is prohibited:
• On crossings;
• On railroad crossings and closer than 100 m before them;
• Closer than 100 m (in towns – 50 m) before crosswalks (zebras);
• On and under bridges, on viaducts, in tunnels;
• Generally: under conditions of intermittent or bad road visibility.
It is not allowed to overtake the organized column of 3 or more vehicles accompanied by a vehicle with flasher light of any color (red, blue, green) except orange.
Overtaking is also prohibited on road segments marked with solid single or double line and/or overtaking prohibit sign
BUT, even on these segments you are allowed to overtake the vehicles moving with under 30 km/h speed.
Now, you are ready to go. Good luck.
Ohh… Wait a second; I forgot to tell you the most important thing:
BEWARE OF UKRAINIAN ROAD POLICE!!!
Forget all that you have read above as all these inconveniences are nothing comparing to the troubles that you may have from the guys in the police uniform, whose job is "to serve and to protect” (sorry for this Americanism).
Believe me or not, but try to set up your mind to the idea that every road policeman, that you will possibly meet on Ukrainian roads, is uneducated, selfish, suffering a complex of inferiority, armed individual, in the disguise of a policeman (let’s call him "bad guy”), whose only aim, when he comes out on the road, is to enrich his personal budget by way of mental pressing, extortion, threatening, cheating. Thinking like that you will be ready to protect yourself from his illegal actions. But when instead in front of you a totally different guy (gentlemen-like police officer ("good guy”), who stopped you to warn about a danger, that you will pass on the road ahead, or to offer any other assistance) arises – you will be amazed and drive away with a smile on your face, thinking something bad about me. I must confess, I have not met the good guy myself yet, but people tell that he exists.
Now, there are several main rules, following which you will be able to minimize negative consequences of the rendezvous with the "bad guy” on the road.
Follow the traffic code at all times
. This condition is very important but not sufficient to avoid meetings with policemen. To be ordered to stop by the "bad guy” you do not have to violate any rule. You just have to look like the person possessing a reasonable sum of money, which can possibly be extorted from you.
I. When you are ordered to stop by a policeman.
1. Always park your car according to the rules, even if the inspector orders you to do otherwise
Our police do not direct your car to a safe parking place to do all their procedures. Moreover, very often the "bad guy” tries to make the driver park his car on the spot, where parking is prohibited, which is a good reason for him to fine you (even if this will be the only reason). The most common places, where drivers are ordered to stop by the "bad guy”, but where you should not park your car, are listed above.
2. Lock all doors and shut all windows of your car, turn on an emergency signal, do not stop the engine, and turn on any available audio/video recording device
(at least use the camera of your telephone, if you have a company in the car - let somebody help you record video). All this you have to do before you start talking to a policeman. It is very likely that even "bad guys” will behave at sight of a video camera. Most probably the policeman will ask you to stop recording your video, but you do not have to do it as video recording of the process of communication between drivers and policemen was approved by police department and ministry.
3. Never get out of the car.
Your car is your fortress. The policeman can invite you to come out, but no law obliges you to do so, especially in the situation, when you have no idea why you have been stopped.
II. When the policeman approaches your car (he must do it)
1. look carefully if he personally and his car looks like the samples, described here
Do your best to take pictures, record video of the policeman and his car in general, paying special attention to any suspicious detail, that differ from the sample pictures.
2. The policeman must say clearly his name, special rank and the reason for stopping you.
In any case ask the policeman to present his police ID.
When you see the policeman’s ID it is strongly recommended that you either read loudly (to enable your camera microphone catch the sound) or write down his name, document number, place of his service, valid till date; also note same way the number graved on his badge. Policeman must present his police ID on the first request.
3. If there is a serious discrepancy between the picture and the guy in front of you
(no or different badge, no pistol holster; car with no special marks, number plates of the car are not blue), or he is unwilling to produce his police ID – be very careful, stop any further communication, call 102 (common police line) and tell them your name and your suspicions). Most probably nobody will understand you, but every call must be registered and some actions basing on this call must be done. If the situation looks totally critical from your point of view – leave the place and drive away, stop at a next police station (you will see it directly near the road: on main roads – on all entrances to big cities and between administrative regions, on average - every 100-150 km) and describe the situation to the police (photos and video to support your words would be perfect). And hope that you are talking to a "good guy”.
Remember, nobody else except the policeman (and military border guards, but this is a different story) has the right to stop your car and do any checks.
III. When the policeman tells that you have been stopped "just to check”:
Ukrainian law allows the police to stop cars just to check. "Just to check” in the police language means that they hold "special operation in order to check the documents confirming legal possession and driving”. These operations take place very often, so do not be surprised when you unluckily "take part” in one of them and proceed as follows:
1. Show the policemen
a) your driver’s license
b) vehicle registration document
No law obliges you to pass the documents to the policeman’s hands in Ukraine. Allow him to read all the information, which he needs to, but keep the documents in your own hands. This will disable the "bad guy” to keep you documents and take you as a hostage. You may only be requested to show your Insurance policy when you are involved in an accident or in the process of your rule violation fact protocolling.
Ignore policeman's request to show any other documents as well as your emergency triangle, fire-stopper and first-aid kit. Though rules oblige you to have the ones,their absence do not lead to anylegal responsibility from your side.
2. Do not allow the policemen to get inside your car or provide your personal search
Police have also the right to take an external examination of your car: looking through windows, from beneath, from above, but this does not include any penetration inside the car, checking your glove box or luggage boot. By law they can only search your car and you if they suspect you in any criminal actions. But even in that case, they cannot do it just like that – they must state clearly their suspicions and reasons in a "search protocol” and they also must get 2 witnesses involved (the policemen crew cannot be the ones). You can be sure they will never go that far during "just to check” campaign. But when they will really suspect you in any crime – you will be laid your face down without any explanation, and only after that your documents will be checked.
3. Allow the policemen to see VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of your car.
By law you have to allow policemen to check numbers of main details of your car. Usually they are VIN and engine number (if this is stated in your vehicle registration document). This trick is often used by the "bad guy” to fuggle you out of your car and open your motor compartment. Don’t eat that bait. Ask the policeman if he knows exactly where VIN and especially engine number marks are located in your car (it is strongly recommended that you know it yourself – you will have a chance to catch the "bad guy” in a lie), show him the VIN mark beneath your front window. If he insists in opening your motor compartment – say that you treat this procedure as a search of your car and request him to complete a search protocol and involve 2 witnesses. Tell him that you do not know how to open your motor compartment as technicians always do it for you, when needed.
4. Never refuse to pass an alcohol test.
This is maybe the most widely used and the most perverted way of extortion, based on the "just to check” stop. This is something like the last argument of the "bad guy”, when he sees that you are not willing to say good bye to your money openheartedly.
I believe that you have no alcohol or other illegal staff in your blood, otherwise this advice is not for you
. In this case you will need a video recording device more than ever. Any way, if you say: "NO, I do not want to pass your f..ing test!!!” You can be accused in drunk driving as this is the same as to say: "Yes, I am drunk!”.
a) Try to convince the policeman with your behavior and confidence that you are not on drugs or drinks.
If the inspector insists on alcohol testing, he must act according to official alcohol testing procedure, which contains the following MUSTs for the policeman:
• MUST get 2 witnesses (policemen or their friends and associates cannot be the ones) of the testing procedure.
• MUST only use certified equipment from the following list: AlcoQuant 6020, Alcotest 6510, Alcotest 6810, Alcotest 7410 Plus com, Алконт 01
• MUST have and let you study appropriate certificates and instructions of use.
• MUST have individual plastic mouthpiece duly packed, which MUST be opened at your sight.
b) Read carefully and follow the manual instruction of the tester
c) Check the exact time of your testing and check if the tester’s time coincides to actual time.
(After your blow the "bad guy” can print out the result of a drunken man, tested few minutes before you and accuse you in drunk driving).
d) Do not get out of your car and do not blow into the tester inside a police car.
e) Insist that the policeman protocols the procedure and the result of your testing
even if the result is negative (no alcohol found in your blood). This will prevent you from "drunk” protocol fabrication.
Having 0.2 promille of alcohol or more you will be accused in drunk driving.
If you, being absolutely sober, got the "drunk” result from a policeman’s tester do not be too upset and do not get ready to bribe the "bad guy”. Road drunk test is not final. If you do not agree with it you should state it clearly to the policeman and he, in that case, MUST get you to a medical institution for a final decision. Doctor is not allowed to take your blood test for this purpose, but other biological fluids. But in most cases, when the "bad guy” sees that no money will be extorted from you he loses his further interest in your person and lets you go.
IV. When the policeman incriminates you traffic rules violation:
First of all do not panic. The policeman has to state clearly what he incriminates you as soon as he has introduced. If the fact took place, you lost your attention for a second and… Good mannered officer understands that it can happen to anyone and in order not to waste your time with the smile on his face he asks you to pay your fine (few EURO bills) right there. STOP. Do not do it. This is the "bad guy”.
For the usual kinds of traffic code violation the policeman can only complete an ADMINISTRATIVE PROTOCOL and FINE ORDER, which has to be paid in any banking institution of Ukraine (I will disclose you the biggest secret of Ukrainian financial system, but do not tell anybody: no one will know if you get the FINE ORDER and do not pay it. Moreover, if you, being a law abiding person, come to the bank and try to pay the sum due – the bank will not be able to accept your payment as you do not have Ukrainian individual identification number).
No payments on the road are legal.
Moreover, from the moment of incriminating you any kind of violation police must respect your legal rights for being able to communicate in your own language and to use an interpreter’s assistance, to use lawyer’s assistance, to examine all the administrative materials (including all kinds of proofs: witness statements, photo images and video tracks), to ask to postpone the final decision.
Your accusation must be based on legal proofs:
• photo, video materials, taken by legally approved appliances (personal cameras of all brands are not good for that, though widely used by Ukrainian police for extortion purposes),
• your own confession,
• witness statement.
This is the main peculiarity of Ukrainian road police procedure: in 99% of cases they do not have any material evidence of driver’s mistake, for which he can be fined. They apply mental pressing to make you confess, and having your confession they legalize their allegation.
You have to know that the most usual rule violations (reasonable speeding, wrong parking) officially "cost” between EUR 20 – 30
Hereunder I will describe your actions against the most often used allegations:
1. Follow all the steps stated in chapters I and II;
2. Stay in the car and never give away your documents (Driver’s license and Vehicle registration)
3. Never pay money to the policeman.
4. Try to understand what he incriminates you and insist on legal proofs of your mistake.
5. Call your embassy (with the same efficacy you can also dial your friend or relative) and loudly speaking your own language (so that the policeman can hear you) use as often as possible the words: CONSUL and POLICE-MAFIA
6. If the policeman still has not lost his interest in you, either you agree or disagree with policeman’s allegations in order to save your time ask him to issue an Administrative protocol, in which you have to cross out ALL unfilled fields and write down the phrase: «НЕ ЗГОДЕН» or "I DO NOT AGREE”, which is the same, take your copy of the one together with fine order and drive away.
Later, using some help you can appeal against your fine order, but another option is just to trash these papers at your next stop, because it is very unlikely that till June 2012 our government will invent the system enabling the authorities to monitor if your fine order was ever paid.
It is very difficult to describe all possible sequence of events, which can possibly develop when you communicate to the Ukrainian road police, that is why some of the suggested actions may not work as expected.
No fear, no trust, no sympathy!
let this phrase become your slogan, when dealing with Ukrainian road police.
Maybe you better get rid of your tickets and buy yourself a new home cinema instead to watch all matches with your friends.
You have not changed your plans to come yet, have you? You do not want to help Ukrainians to combat the state mob by ignoring the championship, do you? You want to increase incomes of few hundreds of Ukrainians owning or controlling all natural monopolies, factories, ships, jets, hotels, restaurants and stadiums, luxury cars and accommodations, keeping most of their assets abroad, while working as state clerks with under EUR1000 per month official wage - then Ukraine welcomes you to visit EURO 2012.
Lasciate ogni speranza, o voi ch’intrate…
I am Ukrainian, all my life I have lived in Ukraine. I love my country but I cannot accept what THEY do with the people and with the country. Being not an expert or a lawyer I drive very much as a part of my job and use the described methods every time I am stopped by the police. Though all my statements and conclusions are based on official documents, all the points of view and advice, stated in the article should be taken as they are. I as an author will bear no responsibility for any consequences of their use. You are welcome to leave your comments, questions or opinions.