No overtaking from July 1, 2023 - also caravans

No overtaking from July 1, 2023 - also caravans – main image

In Poland, from July 1, 2023, the regulations regarding overtaking by trucks on motorways and expressways are more restrictive than in other European countries. However, it is not only truck drivers who need to be vigilant, because with the new restrictions for these vehicles, the rules for driving with a caravan (or cargo trailer) have also changed, even if the tractor is a passenger car.

Overtaking regulations have been changed in the Highway Code, Article 24.

The driver of a vehicle of category N2 or N3 (...) is prohibited from overtaking a motor vehicle on a motorway and express road with only two lanes for a given direction of traffic, unless the vehicle is moving at a speed significantly lower than the speed limit for vehicles of category N2 or N3 applicable on the road. (…)

The ban does not apply to overtaking vehicles carrying out cleaning, renovation or modernization works on the road, sending yellow flashing signals.

No overtaking disabled for vehicles with significantly lower speeds

The new provisions apply to vehicles of category N2 (gross vehicle weight over 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes) and N3 (lorries with a gross vehicle weight over 12 tonnes).

According to the legal definition, a motor vehicle is a motor vehicle that can travel at a speed above 25 km/h, excluding agricultural tractors. The rules also apply to motorcycles, but not to scooters or e-scooters, which are not considered motor vehicles.

The new rules mean that trucks cannot overtake on highways and expressways that have less than 3 lanes in one direction. However, there is an exception for vehicles traveling much slower than the speed limit and vehicles performing service or repair work with yellow lights on.

However, the lack of a specific definition of "significantly lower speed" for vehicles of a given category raises ambiguities. During the work on the new regulations, representatives of the Ministry of Infrastructure suggested that this difference is at least 10 km/h, but this is not a formal interpretation.

Driving in the left lane is prohibited

Another important regulation change is an additional paragraph in Art. 16 of the Road Traffic Law, which concerns the prohibition of driving in the left lane.

The driver of a vehicle of category N2 or N3 (...) or a combination of vehicles over 7 m long on a motorway or expressway with three or more designated lanes on the roadway in one direction is obliged to use only two lanes intended for a given direction closest to the right edge of the road.

That is, if a highway or expressway has three or more lanes, trucks can use the middle and right lanes and even overtake in those lanes, but they cannot use the leftmost lane.

It is forbidden to drive in the left lane for vehicles with caravans

No overtaking with a caravan

However, it should be noted that this provision also applies to combinations of vehicles over 7 meters in length, which means that almost all passenger cars with a trailer fall under this provision. Even small Fiat 500 cars with a short caravan, which exceed 7 meters in length, cannot drive on the leftmost lane of a motorway or expressway with more than two lanes in one direction.

What are the penalties for breaking the overtaking ban?

Drivers who violate the overtaking ban on motorways and expressways may receive a penalty in the form of 8 penalty points (with 24 points, you lose your driving license). In turn, breaking the ban on using the left lane on motorways and expressways with three or more lanes may result in a penalty of 6 points. Currently, the amount of fines for these offenses has not been specified, but it can be expected that they will be the same as for violating the overtaking ban, i.e. PLN 1,000 (PLN 2,000 in the case of recidivism).

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