A formidable contender to traffic chaos in Turkey or India, Ukraine drivers are notoriously unpredictable and dangerous.
If you plan on driving in Ukraine – or, for that matter, even being close to the roads – there are a number of things to consider.
Even if you aren't stepping foot inside a car, if you're walking along the roads in Ukraine, you are in danger.
Essentially, pedestrians have no right of way – even in designated areas like crosswalks. It's safe to assume that if you are in the way of the car, the driver won't slow down, and you'll be hit.
The pedestrian safety threat isn't limited to just crossing roads, either. A favorite pastime for Ukranian drivers is to simply mount the footpath if the traffic is too dense. Do not expect the driver to slow down as a result of this – they will usually maintain normal speed and treat the footpath like a road.
A good hint: if you're walking on a footpath, and there is a high level of dense traffic, grow a set of eyes in the back of your head, because you'll going to need them.
Sometimes, the driver may be generous enough to honk their horn to notify you that they are approaching if you are crossing the road. If this is the case, take a tumble dive to the curb. If you are on the footpath and the same thing happens, take a tumble dive into the nearest building.
Okay, we might be overemphasizing the dangers a little bit, but it really must be noted: Ukranian pedestrian system is fraught with danger, and you need to be careful.
So, you've kitted yourself out with a nice little Yuko, and you're ready to hit the roads. But first, there are a few things you need to check off your list before you pull out into the main streets.
Make sure you have some kind of identification on you. It could be an international drivers license, your license from your own country, passport or other forms of identification. This is good for dealing with the police – which we'll get to shortly.
The most important thing you should have on you, is your car registration. You must have this with you at all times while driving. If you don't own the car, you must hold a power of attorney (Dverinost) issued by a Ukrainian Notary.
Now, you have all your bits and pieces, it's time to bite the bullet and hit the road. Here are our top tips:
It's fairly likely that at some stage you will be pulled over by a police officer. It's also fairly likely that if the police officer determines that you are a foreigner, they will be after some kind of bribe.
If you have all your documents with you, then they cant pin you for much more than a fine for "speeding", which can usually be paid off with around 20 UAH (US $4).
Sometimes they wont ask for a bribe at all. Sometimes they will make up ludicrous accusations. But remember that it's simply easier just to pay a small bribe than try to argue – which will see you wind up in more trouble. Although really, the "trouble" isn't that significant.
Ukrainian police are very busy, so if you front up with a bribe initially, they will probably just take it and be on their way.
Having said all this, bribery is still considered illegal. You do not have to bribe any police officer, but in a country like Ukraine, where police corruption is at an epidemic level, we are merely highlighting the realities you may face.
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