The major Prague road-ways emanate from the city like rays from the sun, so seeing the country is simple if you base yourself in the capital. The D1 (Prague-Brno) motorway is used the most, although the D5 (Prague-Nurnberg) motorway has introduced an express two-hour route into West Germany. Furthermore, the D8 motorway has now been completed right up to Dresden in the north. It is advisable to read the most up-to-date map before travelling. As an alternative, visit www.ceskedalnice.cz, where updates on all the newly constructed motorways are displayed. If you do use one of these motorways, you will need to buy a dálniční známky (a special stamp sticker) that you place upon your windscreen. The majority of post offices and petrol stations sell these. This sticker is priced at 250 CZK for ten days, 350 CZK for one month, or 1200 CZK for a calendar year. Every rental car ought to come with its’ own valid stamp.
Always be careful when you drive. Frequently, roads in the Czech Rep are misdesigned, over-crowded and narrow. Drivers are usually aggressive and will generally try and overtake, regardless of the road conditions or the state of the oncoming traffic. The few super-highways in existence are well maintained, so whenever you can stick to these, particularly at night-time. Should you encounter car problems, the main highways offer S.O.S. emergency telephones to ring for help, situated approximately every one kilometre. Also, there is the U.A.M.K., a twenty-four-hour breakdown service like the A.A., which can assist you with a charge. You could beckon its’ light yellow pick-up trucks on the major highways via emergency telephones. If you are not close to an S.O.S. telephone, or if you are stranded on the road bereft of them, you could call Ú.A.M.K. at telephone: 1230 (www.uamk.cz), or A.B.A., an additional emergency assistance business, at telephone 1240 (www.aba.cz). Any time you experience problems and need to ring road services, always have the requisite details to hand to help the operator, such as the model, year and make of your car, the license number, along with any other relevant technical details. Needless to say, the operator will request this.
Theoretically, overseas drivers are supposed to own an international driver’s licence, although this is generally overlooked in reality, and short term tourists are OK with a certified national driver’s licence. Vehicles also have to carry proof of registration and insurance (rental cars have green cards issued with them), along with a 1st aid kit in the boot.
Czech law enforcement is notorious for pulling over vehicles with foreign number plates and then exacting negotiable “fines”. If you are pulled over, be prepared to pay a minimum of 1000 CZK for speeding or for any other common offence, such as not keeping your headlights on in the daytime. Anyone caught by law enforcement should request some receipt, which can help to reduce any overpayments.