Driving in Odesa

more than a year ago
The condition of most roads in Ukraine is basically wretched, especially after the winter thaw. Another problem is the decrepit traffic lights. They are not all that bright, and sometimes it is difficult to tell which light is actually lit and which just has the sun shining on it to make it appear lit. Road markings, especially the all-important centre line, often go missing. In this case you should do what the locals do and decide for yourself where the line is. Just make sure that other drivers understand your intentions. No right turn on a red light, unless you have a special green arrow next to the red light.

Fines for moving violations have recently been increased. The hope is that this action will lead to a decrease in some of the idiotic behaviours that have led Ukraine to having one of the world’s worst road safety ratings. Drivers can now expect to pay from 51Hr for minor violations to as much as 3400Hr for major violations such as drunk driving (Ukraine has a zero-tolerance alcohol policy when it comes to being behind the wheel). New seat belt and helmet laws will be enforced. Fines for pedestrian violations have also increased. The days of being able to bribe your way out of punishment are coming to an end, maybe. Traffic patrol will soon be required to use video and photo surveillance for all traffic stops.

With a mix of narrow streets and reckless Michael Schumacher wannabes, driving in Odesa can be a hair-raising experience. The fact that the city is laid out on a grid makes finding your way around relatively simple. Parking in centre can be difficult, but with a little patience and a good eye you’re likely to find a free spot. The area around Deribasivs’ka and Hrets’ka pl. works like Chinese finger-cuffs - easy to get in but tricky to get out - and is best avoided. As you enter and exit the city, watch out for the numerous speed traps!

According to Ukrainian law, foreign drivers must carry an international driving licence in addition to the licence from their home country. International licences can be acquired in your country of origin. Foreign vehicles can stay in Ukraine for no more than two months. Extensions can be obtained via registration with the National Auto Inspector (ДАІ).


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