Czech by Numbers - On the road


Welcome to Czech by Numbers, Radio Prague's Czech language course in which we look at the different ways of using numbers in everyday speech. Today we'll be focusing on the special importance of numbers on the roads.

Photo: Radio Prague International
To get a driver's licence in the Czech Republic, you have to be 18 years old - osmnáct in Czech.

Roads in this country are referred to by numbers on the maps. The word for motorway is dálnice, hence the letter D in their names. The main motorway connecting Prague and the second city Brno is called D 1 - D jedna - or commonly "D jednička". Other major roads are marked with the letter E, for example, the infamous E 55 - E padesát pět - leading to the border with Germany and notorious for prostitution and open air markets selling all kinds of dubious products.

The maximum speed limit for driving in an inhabited area is 50 km per hour - padesát kilometrů v hodině, the speed is also referred to as padesátka. On motorways you can drive up to 130 kph - sto třicet. On highways outside towns it is 90 - devadesát.

Skoda 120 | Photo: Radio Prague International
The gears in a car are referred to by numbers, usually from 1 to 5. The first gear is officially known as první rychlostní stupeň (first degree) - but everyone says jednička - number one. Similarly, there is dvojka, trojka, čtyřka and pětka. For example, to drive in second gear is jet na dvojku.

Some types of cars are also commonly referred to by numbers. Some twenty years ago, most drivers in this country owned Skoda cars and the most common types were Skoda 105 and 120. They were known as stopětka and stodvacítka or the 105 or the 120. Those names are still understood by people today.

In July 2006 a new penalty points system came into force on Czech roads and if you collect a total of 12 points - dvanáct bodů, you lose your licence.

That's it for today's lesson, till next time na shledanou.