So you want to drive around in Ukraine, huh? Well here are a few cultural tips you might want to know before you get in the car…

First of all, leave that seatbelt alone. Apart from the fact that many vehicles here don’t even have seatbelts, it is viewed as an offense to the driver to buckle up.

Driving in Ukraine... always an adventure!

Driving in Ukraine... always an adventure!

If you do, they may jokingly say, “What. Don’t you trust my driving?” But they’re definitely not smiling when they say it.

I guess it comes down to a choice between two things… gently preserving delicate cultural relations, or surviving your trip to Ukraine.

But that shouldn’t even be a concern, because of tip number 2…

You can trust your Ukrainian drivers. They’re all very good! I mean, they have to be good in order to avoid participating in the plentiful auto accidents throughout the city.

And yes. I realize that’s a bit of a paradox. But hey… the other day I saw a minutes-old accident at one stop light, then actually watched a fender bender happen at the next light.

Moral of the story? My driver wasn’t involved in either accident. I like those odds.

When driving out in the country, try to think of passing slow-moving trucks as a game. That will help to lessen the sheer horror of watching your life flash before your eyes every five minutes.

A peaceful country road, home to countless nightmares and near-death experiences...

A peaceful country road, home to countless nightmares and near-death experiences...

Now, I’m no stranger to scary close calls (I did live in India for three months), but there is something uniquely frightening about puttering slowly by an overloaded pick-up truck while rounding a blind curve on a hill.

I don’t know. Call me a wimp. Maybe if they were using turn signals it wouldn’t be so bad…

Finally, try to avoid screaming in terror when pedestrians are jay-walking. You see, when people cross at the cross-walk, they have the complete right of way. Turning cars will screech to a halt to let a person cross.

But apparently if someone tries to cross the road anywhere else, they are fair game. I’ve had to hold my breath a couple of times as we whizzed by people in the road with inches to spare (I haven’t confirmed this yet, but I’m beginning to suspect that Ukrainian drivers have some sort of point system going on…).


Ok. That’s it for now. If you follow those easy tips on your next trip to Ukraine, you should make it through in one piece.

Well, at least emotionally…


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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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  1. Gina said... 


    April 3rd, 2009 at 10:40 am  

    Haha…I remember similar things from my rides in Belgium.

  2. Dave Quigley said... 


    April 7th, 2009 at 8:50 pm  

    I like it – reminds me of Boston and the Philippines!

  3. Wes said... 


    April 7th, 2009 at 8:58 pm  

    Sounds intense! at least the pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks…

  4. Blake Anderson said... 


    April 8th, 2009 at 10:17 am  

    You mean we aren’t supposed to drive like that in the U.S. Good to know.

  5. Barry Rod said... 


    April 8th, 2009 at 10:58 am  

    It’s funny. For as little as they wear seatbelts, Ukrainians sure do obey other traffic laws well.

    Like traffic lights. It’s amazing how quickly they’ll slow down for a light that’s ABOUT to turn yellow!

  6. Shelli said... 


    April 10th, 2009 at 10:20 am  

    I remember being in Ukraine and playing “dodge the pothole” in our taxi. I think the taxi drivers haves some sort of game going on there too.

  7. warren said... 


    May 25th, 2009 at 9:31 am  

    My driver in Ukraine informed me that there were only first class drivers in Ukraine…he then smirked that the second and third class drivers had all been killed off.

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