It drives me crazy

Walking around Riga can sometimes feel a bit like being an extra in ‘Night of the Living Dead’. Nobody seems to be aware of their surroundings or any of the other people around them – sometimes I wonder how anyone actually makes it anywhere with all the bumping into people that goes on. But much as I’ve lamented this, it’s really just a mild irritation. 

The real problems start when you take these zombies and put them in a hunk of metal, moving at speed – usually with a mobile phone in their hand. Seemingly zombies text too. You see, Latvians drive the same way they walk – like they’re the most important people in the world and nobody else matters. 

Speeding, dangerous overtaking, drink-driving, mobile phone use, reversing up one-way streets, illegal u-turns, parking wherever takes their fancy, speeding up when the traffic lights turn amber, breaking red lights, shooting out of car parks without looking left or right, stopping on pedestrian crossings, continuing to nudge forward across pedestrian crossings when pedestrians have right of way – the list of, at best, uncool, and at worst, deadly behaviour is never-ending. I’ve actually seen two cars crash into each other when there were no other cars on the road at all. (Seemingly, Latvia called in a French expert to fix their ‘traffic problems’ a few years ago. He observed, had a bit of a chuckle and went home again.)

The Germans make wrapping a car around a tree look good.

The Germans make wrapping a car around a tree look good.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed either. The Englishman in Latvia recently published a post on how he thought Latvian driving was the worst he’d ever seen. (Yeah, his honeymoon period didn’t last long.) Naturally, I couldn’t resist adding my two cents’ worth in the comments. And naturally, I was accused of exaggerating. Another girl said that while Latvian drivers weren’t the best (you think?), nothing could compare with how they drive in Russia, and, in particular, in Moscow. 

Um, I’m sorry, but why are we comparing Latvians with Russians? Isn’t Latvia European? Isn’t everyone always whining about how Latvia is in Northern Europe? Shouldn’t we be comparing Latvia with those countries instead? Plus, bearing in mind that the population of Moscow alone is almost 6 times that of the whole of Latvia, it’s hardly a reasonable comparison. But of course, it’s always easy to point out those who are ‘worse’ than you – and it’s just an added bonus if they happen to be Russian. 

So, back to comparing, which Latvians seem to love so much (but generally, only when it’s favourable to Latvians). In 2012, there were 86 fatalities in Latvia per 100,000 inhabitants. It doesn’t sound like a huge number until you compare it with other European countries. Denmark – 32, Ireland – 36, Spain – 41, Germany – 44, the Netherlands – 32, Sweden – 31, and the UK – 28. The only countries that were worse were Poland (93), Lithuania (100), Romania (96) and Greece (92).

In 2006, nearly a quarter of all traffic accidents in Ireland were caused by immigrants. In an article in The Guardian from that year, Nick Miller, a Fine Gael spokesman said, “Nearly a quarter of all road traffic fatalities involved immigrants. That is partially because they drive on the wrong side of the road and partially because they have a devil-may-care attitude to drink driving. They believe, wrongly, they will not be caught here. We have called for road signs to be put up in Latvian, Russian and Polish to get the message across.” (I couldn’t find any more recent information but if anyone has any links, please post them in the comments.)

So, in a country where people are disappearing overseas all the time (and taking their crappy driving skills with them), it’d be nice if Latvian drivers stopped trying to wipe out the remaining population.

(And now I sit back and wait to be told I’m living in a parallel universe – again.)

 

 

 

 

 

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About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvia, Latvian people, Riga, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

137 Responses to It drives me crazy

  1. wasd says:

    Spot on! We have terrible drivers. And yes, we only compare in cases that allow us to shine. Like how good we are living here compared with countries from africa.

  2. OMG. Latvia sounds like another planet but not to worry, here in Germany, driving is fun. You’d better be a good driver though as most autobahns have no speed limit. Gulp! As for Berlin, it’s actually cheaper to be issued a ticket in some areas, than to buy one. We live the High Life LOL!

  3. eesh! get outta there! head to a country where they love to follow rules…..drive crazy fast, but love the rules!

  4. Mārtiņs says:

    I’ll be optimistic and will say it’s becoming better in comparison to 90s and 2000. Then it was I won’t let you in my lane by no means, if I have an advantage then piss off. Now it’s not that bad. Of course cannot compare to France or Germany in the means of driving culture, in attitude to pedestrians.
    And I don’t think the driving skills or poor examination is to be blamed. To get a driving licence in Latvia is much complicated than in the UK where people are allowed to use their own car, regulations, traffic rules are not that fault-finding and censorious. People can drive if they wanted to. Look at the taxi drivers, it seems that they’ve learned driving on another planet, BMW – rules are not for them – showing turning lights, speed limits, zebras this is for other brands and drivers. So if you see BMW – freeze!
    Yes but they all were able to drive normally once upon a time. I can assure you – it is hard to get a licence in this country. For the sake of interest – try csnt.csdd.lv – the official theory test.
    It’s not that nothing is being done and that Latvians themselves don’t realize the problem. Bloody drink and drive Līgo (summer solstice) depicting had decreased the amount of dead and injured at that period; also super intense traffic police patrol around the 23rd of June showed it’s effective. More inventions – obligate consultations to psychologists for them who drive aggressively, stressed and have forgotten how to behave on the road. I see a positive tendency.

  5. Wow, I’ve got a section in your article. Amaze balls…
    Too bad you’ve interpreted it like that. I was telling my experience as I’ve lived in Moscow and I am just thankful we don’t drive here as they do.

  6. Anna says:

    Wait, so, statistically, Russians are better drivers than Latvians? This just made my day. And also made me a little bit more scared about my visit.

  7. expatlingo says:

    And another tick in the Germany will be more pleasant (and safe) column!

  8. NancyTex says:

    This post was awesome, Linda, but plianos’ comment about parallel parking just won the internet today. 😀

  9. freebutfun says:

    The first association this post gave me was all the taxi drives I’ve had in Athens. I don’t think I’ve ever had one without a side mirror being lost or somebody bumping into us/ my taxi scratching something. But it’s ok, it’s always a “no problem!”. So maybe it’s just about the attitude? 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      You’re the second person to mention Athens! My worst experience was in Istanbul. We were there for New Year’s. We finished 2012 with one car crash and started 2013 with another. Thankfully neither was serious! Taxi drivers there are insane!

      • freebutfun says:

        Wow, that’s crazy! Lucky nothing serious happened but a bit scary though.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah 🙂 The first time, the tyre came off the car in the middle of a motorway – he managed to pull over to the side in a hail of sparks then went running across 3 lanes of traffic to get the runaway tyre! 🙂

  10. mollytopia says:

    Wow that’s kind of scary. I don’t know what the rates are in the US but I rarely pass a car on the road wherein the driver isn’t using a phone for talking or texting…

  11. June says:

    Oh, Linda, don’t get me started. I’m horrified but not surprised to see Lithuania top of the list. I would say about 90% of my rows with my husband are about his driving. “Will you keep back from the car in front, please.” “Will you drive slower (i.e., within the legal limit) please.” “Will you use two hands on the wheel please, darling.” “Will you use at least one hand on the wheel please, darling.” As for parking, there was a humdinger of a row last night when he left the rear end sticking out about a metre in a jam packed car park, despite the fact there was a big gap in front to straighten up. I’m constantly petrified on the roads. People drive right up your arse, even if you’re overtaking, and expect you to get out of the way just because they want to go faster. But there’s just no reasoning with them – my husband just can’t see that there’s anything wrong. You know you’re more likely to get stopped for speeding coming up to Christmas – hmm. I just try to stay off the roads and out of the way as much as I can. And I’ll keeping nagging – I may eventually get through.
    PS: if you need help with your lynch mob I can be there in 3 hours (or 2 if I drive like a Latvian).

    • Expat Eye says:

      I thought you’d probably have a lot to add to this one! It sounds like even more of a nightmare there. Sounds like Arunas needs the nagging!

    • I have had my driver’s license since 2006, but I must admit that there are situations that even after all these years there are situation when I’m just plain scared and totally lost, with my heart, legs and arms trembling and shaking so much, it’s quite surprising I haven’t hit some wall by now. I’m not even talking about chicken-shits overtaking you so fast it seems you’re standing in one place on some good main roads – I can handle that. But when the same is sometimes (OK, maybe way-too-often-sometimes) is true within city limits… pardon my French, but I don’t get it… Same goes for parking – some people just can’t do it right, but they still take up to three spaces to park their car. And it’s like I SUCK at parallel parking – I can do it, but it takes up some time, so if there are cars behind me, and in case me trying to parallel park could cause a small local traffic jam, I just keep on driving until there is a space big enough for instant parking or where I can park nose in.

  12. Sounds a lot like New Jersey….

  13. Kristine says:

    I still remember the 1st time my German boyfriend visited Latvia and was driving my old mazda.. he was scared as hell of the 3-4 car overtakers. This is something I don’t understand by this day.

    Parking is another gem – I love the big MBW/Mercedes drivers who park like this: http://www.delfi.lv/aculiecinieks/news/riga/aculiecinieks-bmw-vaditajam-slikta-redze.d?id=44772864

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha ha! Snorted laughing at that one!

      • Kristine says:

        BMW, sorry. Some of my non-Latvian friends don’t understand why I hate this brand. It’s not the car itself, it the (majority of) people driving it… i know, i know, stereotyping at its finest here, but it’s partially true! Some BMW owners which i personally know, love to drive fast and reckless. They tell me BMW is perfect and “suits their lifestyle”. Oh, well…

      • Expat Eye says:

        Otherwise known as Small Penis Syndrome 😉

    • Nerdator says:

      Oh, looking at this has made me remember something that happened about a year ago on Kr. Barona Street – not far from where it branches off Brīvības Street and the VEF bridge, but before it crosses Pērnavas Street.

      It’s not very wide there, but there is a car lane on each side of the tram tracks and on one side of the road – there is some space for parking, but not much. So a certain bloody genius parked an SUV (it’s always an SUV) there diagonally, so that trams couldn’t pass by without having to ram the car.

      I was in a tram that had to stop because of that bastard, wasted some 20 minutes waiting, and then had to walk to where I was going (and so did quite a lot of people, the tram wasn’t empty).

      It’s not just BMW/Mercedes, and it’s definitely happens across genders. Though driving an SUV clearly gives you +50 to your sense of entitlement. These things should be banned.

      • rower says:

        extra driving exam, (like category H) for SUV and large road usage tax would be both sufficient and budget-enriching.

  14. linnetmoss says:

    Ugh, you just nixed any chance of me visiting Latvia! It reminds me of the way they drive in Athens. I remember that even in the taxi from the airport, I was saying my prayers…

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I was the same there! I guess these countries make you feel slightly closer to god… maybe 😉

      • rower says:

        please, be specific, which god. Haides, Poseidon, Zeus, or maybe, Pan or Dyonisus? who knows, maybe those crazy drivers here are praying to Jumis or even the great Pērkons right during the driving?

  15. For a moment or two thought you were writing about driving in India not Latvia! We could have a contest on which city in the world has the craziest most dangerous driving conditions! 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      There really should be no reason for Riga to be in there! The population is so small! But the roads are pretty crap 😉

    • Mārtiņs says:

      I’ve heard that yes, they drive crazy in India, traffic looks like chaos with no organisation but nevertheless they avoid accidents somehow.

      • Emmi says:

        same in vietnam. they dont even have road regulations or traffic lights. if you want to cross the road you just have to walk straight through the flow of cars and motorbikes and they will halt to give you space. pretty horrifying!!

  16. city_cat says:

    Maybe because I am Latvian and am used to the Latvian way of driving/walking or maybe because I’ve lived in a country where driving is so so much worse than in Latvia, I feel ok (most of the time) walking in Latvia. What really surprises me is Latvian inability at parking!!! my jaw dropped to the ground when a couple of weeks ago I saw a guy (around 25 maybe) trying to GET OUT of a parking lot, and the spaces between his car and the cars in front and behind were huge. like 40cm each!! his mom (I suppose so..) was standing outside to help him drive out!!!! I was like: seriously?!!!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! Latvian mammy saves the day 🙂

    • Diana says:

      Errrrr….unfortunately this above is me too! ha, ha, ha…but how can it REALLY be my fault, when I come from Texas – – land of the BIG…and that means big, huge parking lots to a place where the sidewalk is considered a parking area?

  17. You rock, girl 😀 I’m always telling my kids that they shouldn’t compare their aptitudes to others, particularly when others happen to produce worse results. They should be able to look themselves in the mirror at the end of the day. The Latvians appear to have it in for you…. keep an eye out for Latvians with pouted poisonous bits on the end of their brollies, girl. Or get yourself some pit-bulls with titanium-tipped teeth.

  18. TRex says:

    Must be time for the road rants again as Life in Riga has had a bit of a bash about Latvian drivers as well. I certainly have nothing good to say about them and my reasoning has always come down to crummy driver education and poor enforcement. The driving schools are as corrupt as hell and I know this from personal experience as I tried to get Mrs. T through one of them in her aborted attempt at a Latvian drivers license. And then there are the road police. I know one actually. He makes 680 euros/month and has traveled more extensively than I have. I wonder how he does that?

    Mrs. T has a Moscow drivers license and as wild as Moscow can be I would prefer her driving there when we are in town as opposed to driving here.

  19. Emmi says:

    mmm… arent there rules that apply to all of EU? what exactly is wrong with Latvia – is it the legislation or the people and their attitude?

    • Expat Eye says:

      I would say attitude and lack of policing. And I can’t imagine the driving schools here being particularly good from what I’ve seen. One girl told me that she flirted her way into getting her licence. I’ve been keeping an even closer eye on drivers over the last few days (I knew I was going to write this post) and I would say around 3 out of every 5 drivers are on their mobiles while driving – though that’s obviously against the law. Nothing is ever done about it though.

      • Blow says:

        I have known somebody who got a driving licence for giving a blow-job to the exam instruction 😀 but in all honesty, nothing compares to driving in/around Paris… ok, maybe only India but haven’t been there and done that…

      • Expat Eye says:

        There must be a lot of happy driving instructors in Latvia cos that’s the only way I can see that some of these people got their licences! 🙂

      • Emmi says:

        flirting, blowjobs – thats not very profitable and too complicated. in Russia they have a fixed price – about USD 500 to get a license. thats actually the driving school fee but after you pay you can either study for the exam or just take the license.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! I love your practical approach to flirting and blow jobs 🙂 Not very profitable and too complicated 🙂 Ha ha!

      • Emmi says:

        Im jiust trying to understand the logic of the latvian driving instructors. if you are ready to give unprepared people a licencse, you might as well make some money on them. at least russian men are practical=) and blowjobs you can always get for free.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Very true! Maybe they should hire more female driving instructors – knock the problem on the head, so to speak 😉

      • Emmi says:

        what do you know about Latvia irish whore? go back to Ireland! I dont know in which latvia you live – it must be some parallel universe) real latvians are the best drivers in the world and 100% of car accidents are made by russians!

        sorry linda I just had to say that couldnt resist 😉

        btw Ive traveled quite a bit around europe and the only people who could accept honest critisizm as well as bash their own country were the irish and the british, the germans, austrians, russians ukrainians and georgians that Ive met just couldnt take any critisizm of their country so be carefull!

        p.s. the polish people loove to complain about their country though)no idea about latvians

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha! Emmi, you had me worried there for a second! I thought you’d turned on me!
        The Latvians love to complain too – they just don’t like it when a foreigner does it 😉 It’s this ‘if you like Latvia, Latvia likes you’ bullshit – if you have a problem, get out 😉

      • Emmi says:

        that “at least we re better than the russians ” attitude that latvians have is just stupid. only the other day I was talking to a Russian guy I know, apparently a big Putin fan, how bad things are changing in his country and he would reply with phrases such as: at leats we dont have common use of guns and violence in schools like in the USA/ at leats we dont have war like in Ukraine/ at least we dont kill our own babies like they do in India and so on…

        when one wants to change his country you have to learn the BEST from your neighbours not the worst – dont look at someone who has less than you, try to be as good as your wealthier neighbour. and this counts for everyone even the americans!

      • Expat Eye says:

        I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

    • Anastasia says:

      It’s the attitude.

      They believe that rules aren’t for them. Obeying the law isn’t on their agenda. Only ordinary or poor people and women pay taxes, show left/right signals and use litter bins.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Where does this attitude come from? I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else!

      • rower (an ordinary human being, too) says:

        aha, these usually do not use their head, too. unfortunately Darwins laws do not work properly on these ppl. 😦

      • rower says:

        @Laura – pigs, you know, sometimes look distinktivly like human beings.

      • Anastasia says:

        A sign of under-developed culture where self-importance is still the only value that counts.

        I guess the further down East you go, the worse it gets (referring to the Moscow comparison). Once I was on the bus from Bournemouth to London with the usual for this route bunch of foreign students. A young mid-asian guy sat next to me. The driver made the announcement about a requirement to have the belts on at all times and off we went when the guy next to me took his belt off. The driver asked (very politely:)) to put it back on. Five minutes later the guy took it off again. They did the whole on/off game 3 more times, before the driver said that he’d have to stop the bus and let the guy out if he keeps doing it. The guy quite obviously had no concept of rules and why he (the king of the world travelling anonymously apparently) had to listen to what common people say.

        PS I won’t even try to pretend that I’m joking. I’m dead serious. I just had a huge row with a BMW driver who decided to turn right from the far left lane, being in the middle of the junction! Unluckily he had me on it’s way.

        It’s been a year and I thought I’d get used to it, but no. Hopeless.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Jesus, how dangerous – glad you’re OK, and gave him a piece of your mind! Hopefully he reads this blog – or any of the other blogs that have posts on shit driving here!

    • rower says:

      the people with legislation ™. actually, no, “the rules” (here it’s called the traffic law) are not common, however, most of the rules (like red lights, most of roadsigns, “one must keep on the right side of the road”, “who’s on the right – has the right (right hand law)” ) are more or less common. there are even rumors, that latvia has some unique roadsigns, used only by us 🙂

  20. Nerdator says:

    We have called for road signs to be put up in Latvian, Russian and Polish to get the message across.

    Now this I would like to see, if it ever happened.

    • Nerdator says:

      Also, the more illuminating bit about the EC stats are the absolutely horrifying fatality figures in 1965, and the realisation how much safer the roads in Europe really are now.

      I can’t say much about driving habits, because I’m exclusively a pedestrian. I mean, I see dickery from time to time, like people driving in bus lanes (they thankfully prohibited driving on tram tracks a few years ago), or pulling over where it’s not allowed (¡Čaka Street!), or taking over other cars across a street crossing – or two. But I’ve never thought that it’s this bad.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, I’m exclusively a pedestrian too – which I’m very grateful for! Even then, I’m on constant alert. And I never cross a road as soon as the man turns green as there’s always some dickhead who shoots through just as the lights have turned red.

      • rower says:

        actually – no, driving on tram track is allowed in specific conditions (tracks are level with other street, tracks are centered in regard to street and there are no roadsigns requiring NOT using tram tracks). in some cases you even MUST use tram track. this is one of things that definately is covered in every driving school program. and yet, 9 out of 10 forget this knowledge as soon as exam is passed.

        as for pulling over and stuff like that… everyone is equal. just some are a bit more equal than others.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha, nice work with the Orwell quote! 🙂
        My driver (when I had one) used to slide along the tram tracks in winter. My male colleague thought it was great fun too. I thought they were both idiots. One a more dangerous idiot than the other. He quickly learned to stop doing it when I was in the car 😉

      • Nerdator says:

        @rower

        It’s definitely not allowed along the Kr. Barona Street. I used to ride trams there daily for several years, and doing this there during rush hours before maybe 2008–2009 was as terrible as riding buses there (especially next to the VEF bottleneck). There was public discussion about cars invading tram tracks there during that period, and now it’s much better.

      • rower says:

        @Nerdator – actually, you’re not completely right. this street-crossing (Raiņa – Kr.Barona). Barona street, looking from center (https://www.google.com/maps/@56.948985,24.11668,3a,75y,47.76h,77.74t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sKhuqZXdsCf8XIGBUR63EFA!2e0). as you can see – no blue square roadsigns (direction of driving, i guess, is the proper english name). so – you may use tram tracks to drive along, IF right lane is occupied. next crossing (Merķeļa) (https://www.google.com/maps/@56.94956,24.117836,3a,75y,32.94h,94.6t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s55VyaAcEy0wJK2Mp8NwkQQ!2e0) — usage of tram track line is forbidden (you can see blue square roadsign overhead). now, elizabetes – allowed. dzirnavu – forbidden. pērses, blaumaņa, lāčplēša – allowed. next junction – Martas iela – no square sign, and left turn to Martas iela is allowed – turn must be completed from tram tracks, and they are free as driving a lane (direction – forward). next junction – Stabu iela – no signs, driving is allowed. then bruņinieku iela – square sign in place – driving on tram tracks is forbidden. matīsa – no place except on tram tracks and no signs. Ata and artilērijas – allowed. Tallinas – forbidden, Pernavas – forbidden. allowed – 9, forbidden – 5. total – 14.

        what happened – on busy junctions where left turn is allowed drivers were obliged (by roadsigns) to make left turns from right line (not from tram tracks). this applies for both towards and from the center – look for example at Stabu and Bruņinieku. where there is left turn – there is a 298.11 (or 298.10) roadsign, with a notorious exception of left turn towards Martas iela (from center) and towards Ata iela (to center). this was done to clean up tram tracks from cars who are waiting for left turn. after all, if driver is going strightforward, trams will be left undisturbed. sounds reasonable for me 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t find out if it actually happened or not – I’ll be talking to my family later so I’ll ask my dad! It’s a great idea so hopefully they did it.

  21. Latvian cars are made of metal now? I’m impressed.

    (Only half joking here. When you’re in Germany, try to find a Trabant…)

  22. I take it you’ll be avoiding the roads AND the pavements for the next week or so…? 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Guess I’ll have to 😉 I’ve already had people commenting on Latvian forums that ‘someone has to stop me’ so this could be the perfect way!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, it would be a shame with about 6 weeks to go! And what would Anna do?!

      • Expat Eye says:

        She’d end up covered in dill with nobody to save her 😉

      • in this heat? I think you’re safe as long as the heat lasts. No Latvian riding another Latvian is moving his/her finger to get even with you until it’s raining 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Let’s hope the heat lasts then!

      • rower says:

        that “getting even” thing depends solely on what meaning you do imply.
        (*drives his fellow latvian towards avotu/stabu intersection, texting insanely*)
        dill, some salt, some water, a couple of green pimpled cucumbers, mix, not shake, 48 hours in a 6-pint jar – voila! a couple of pickled (lightly-salted) cucumbers. some like it hot, some do not.
        (*stops by Lindas apartment*)
        btw, they’ve less fat and sugars than any popcorn, and marinade is quite refreshing during hangovers.
        (*dismounts from diagonally parked latvian*)
        i’ve been told, that some time ago it was possible to buy cucumber or cabbage marinade in 1 and 2 pint bottles, i wunder if that had any connection with regular usage of strong alcoholic beverages in this country…
        (*ties said latvian to tethering post*)
        a total killer during this heatwave.
        (*removes his hat and wipes the brow, then waves his hat to Linda *)
        probably we should change to beer, kvass, sbiten or bojomi mineral water, which in turn is useless to cooking, while red wine, o contraire, could be a choice of marinade for red meat. i prefer sweet (or even kagor), and what is your favorite ?
        (*takes Linda by the hand*)
        😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        That seemed like a lot of effort for a bit of hand-holding 🙂

  23. Paul says:

    You’re really shooting for that Dale Carnegie award for “How to Make Frends and Influence People”, aren’t you Linda? Ha! I love it. Those statistics are abhorrent – no way to argue with those puppies. Great post!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks! Yeah, they’re always accusing me of living in a parallel universe here so I thought I’d back it up this time! 🙂 How’s driving in Canada? Polite? 😉

      • Paul says:

        Depends seriously on the location. In Montreal, they drive with their emotions. As long as you don’t do anything foolish like stop at a stop sign or stop on a yellow light or hesitate you’re fine. Put it to the floor and go – that’s the name of the game, and everyone expects you to drive that way. Toronto is just stupid – they are competitive but take threats seriously – if you can’t find room to move to the next lane, just slide over and they will blow ther horns and make room – likely with the finger. In Montreal they would just laugh at you and get closer to the car ahead. Here in Ottawa we are pretty conservative drivers, but the city (as the capital of Canada) is chock full of what we call “red-tags” – they are cars driven by embassy staff and employees. And they can do anything – they could be from Germany and drive far better than any of us or they could be from Madagascar and have never seen a traffic light before or a paved road in their lives..We even had a Russian embassy employee kill a person in an accident and he couldn’t be prosecuted – we sent him back to Russia and they said they would prosecute him – like that will happen. Out in the rural areas, they are super friendly and couteous. It pisses me off when i come to a 4-way stop and nobody will go – they just keep waving the other drivers ahead of them. I’ve actually gone first when I arrived last – just because no-one else wanted to go first.

        So, it’s kind of varied depending where you are.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Wow, sounds like it’s never a dull moment! Wonder if anything did ever happen to the Russian…

      • Emmi says:

        most likely not. he probably got away with it as they always do. Russian men are…. the worst assholes in the world.Ive heard how in Russia men pretty much cover each other up all the time. if a son of rich businessman or politician kills someone on the road he will not even lose his driving license. thats the way they are.

  24. CrazyCatLady says:

    Bravo!!! And those stats- I got them from EC website – to back up my claims that Latvians are shit drivers. They’re lethal at home and abroad; I hate being in a car or a pedestrian when I’m visiting Latvia (something that I’ll aim to avoid for a while now that there’s three of us). They can shove their attitudes where sun don’t shine, they must be told – out loud by an outsider – that they’re crap.

  25. plianos says:

    My favorite is how they try to parallel park ‘nose in’ first, I usually stop, run home, make a bag of pop corn, walk back and watch the show till they abandon the car in a diagonal position.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! Better than Latvian TV! 🙂

    • rower says:

      actually – that was first thing that i did learn in driving school (yes, we have a couple of these here, too). i mean – parking “in 3 strokes, ass first”. this definately is teached in every driving school – it’s a mandatory requirement to pass a driving exam. unfortunately, 96 out of 100 forget this stuff as soon, as exam is passed. quite usual situation – you see an empty spot, slowly drive by to get there ass-first, and see, that some blonde imbecile pushes her car, nose-first right into that spot and leaves, parked diagonaly. sometimes i even regret, that we are not poor south africa, where a bycicle is top of the wishes for luxury transport…

      • Expat Eye says:

        South Africa is not that poor 😉

      • Antuanete says:

        I admit that I’m one of those persons who forgot parallel parking skills after driving school… because one thing is to park between 2 poles, another thing – between 2 Mercedes cars 😀 So I haven’t practiced it, except when driving Suzuki Jimny, which is wonderfully short and fits easily.
        Regarding traffic in general – yes, it’s not something we should be proud about, but things have improved significantly over the years. Unfortunately, there are always some douchebags on the road who think they can dismiss any traffic rules and ignore other people. In Lithuania it seems to be a bit worse, at least on major roads (when I’m driving about 100 kph on speedometer, I’m getting passed all the time).

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yep, the stats support you on that one! Glad I’m not a driver in Lithuania or Poland – or Ireland, as most of them are over there 😉

      • rower says:

        @Laura – okay, mid-eastern africa 🙂 or madagascar, or whatever. UKWIM.

        @Antuanete – if you can do it between poles, you should be able to do it any place. parallel parking is not that dificult, especially, if you know _your_ car. dimensions and other relevant stuff. and, of course, one must think a half step ahead – first you place the less “turnable” part of your car (back) and afterwards, when that part is in place – you squeeze in the nose, which is much more mobile. nice and simple… and newer cars have parking sensors, so no fuss about “ah, two new mercedess clk’s, what if i scratch them”. and you know, i’ve heard rumors, that even a 25 years old rustpile can be retrofitted with parking sensors. and, you know what else – i’ve sometimes deliberately scratched and pushed MB’s, Jag’s and other assholes, who were parking “over the lines”. also i’ve been told that there is a more effective way to tell those “parking geniuses” that they are doing something wrong. like leaving half-brick on their windshield or hood. might be accompanied with letter “please, do not park this way, or you could have found this half-brick inside your car”. 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Remind me not to get on the wrong side of you 😉

      • rower says:

        i’m afraid your’e afraid to get at any side of me *sniff* 😦
        and i totally agree to remind you in case you get on proper (right? starbord?) side of me 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Good. I’m old and my memory is a bit iffy at times so I need to be reminded of things sometimes 😉

    • I bet it doesn’t even have to be very good popcorn!

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