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    New Regulations for Drivers: Significant Changes Await Ride-Hailing Services

    New rules for drivers will bring significant changes to those offering transportation services through popular apps.

    Starting June 17, 2023, a new amendment to the Road Transport Act requires all drivers providing paid passenger transport to hold a Polish driving license. Additionally, drivers from non-EU or non-EFTA countries will need to pass a theoretical driving exam in Poland.

    Major Changes in Driver Regulations

    One of the key changes is the requirement for foreign drivers to stay in Poland for at least 185 days per year before they can exchange their foreign driving license for a Polish one. This process includes setting up a Driver Candidate Profile (PKK), potentially leading to delays of several weeks to over a year due to administrative procedures and language barriers. This could result in many drivers being excluded from the market for an extended period.

    Impact on the Ride-Hailing Industry

    Łukasz Witkowski, co-founder of Natviol, a Polish payment application for drivers and couriers, emphasizes the practical challenges of these new regulations. He highlights that the changes might exclude thousands of foreign drivers, potentially reducing the availability of ride-hailing services, increasing wait times, and driving up prices.

    The new law could also lead to the expansion of the “grey market” for transportation services, where unregistered drivers operate without proper licenses or insurance. However, Witkowski acknowledges that the requirement for a Polish driving license, recorded in the national database (CEPiK), will improve the tracking of traffic violations and enhance road safety by penalizing offending foreign drivers.

    Economic and Social Implications

    According to the Institute of Public Finance, the passenger transport market in Poland was worth approximately 7 billion PLN in 2023, with 60% attributed to ride-hailing services. Experts predict that the new regulations could eliminate 18,000 to 28,000 drivers from the market, making 10-20% of transport services unfeasible.

    Witkowski notes that ride-hailing apps have revolutionized the transportation market, offering lower prices, easier service booking, vehicle tracking, cashless payments, and the ability to choose drivers or vehicles. These benefits could be at risk if the regulatory environment becomes too restrictive, potentially deterring foreign investors and stifling innovation in the sector.

    Additional Regulatory Changes

    The upcoming months will see further regulatory changes for Polish drivers. As of June 10, vehicles without valid insurance or registration inspections will be automatically deregistered from the CEPiK database. On September 17, double fines will be imposed for repeated traffic offenses. Additionally, starting July 7, new cars will be required to have extra safety systems, including black boxes that record data on safety system activation during accidents.

    The transportation sector in Poland is undergoing a “revolution” that, while aimed at increasing safety and accountability, could have significant economic and social impacts, particularly for foreign drivers and ride-hailing services.

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