Monday, 3 March 2008

Lithuanian Drivers

Lithuanian drivers have got to be in the running for the titles of the worst and most inconsiderate drivers in the world. Obviously, this is a generalization and there are many good, considerate drivers on the roads. But Lithuania does have the highest rate of deaths due to traffic accidents in the European Union, and I wouldn't be surprised if it had the highest in the world. The statistics for the EU can be found here: Check out the last page where the rates per million are. Nobody's even close.

The government has been forced to recognize the problem and has started a campaign to "stop the war on the roads". Lots of posters, TV and radio commercials, etc., but it's hard to say whether it's really having any affect on the behavior of people. The problem is manifold. The problem of people drinking and driving is huge. Another problem is the rapidly increasing number of cars on the road and huge number of new drivers with very few years of driving experience, a legacy of Soviet times. But in my opinion, the biggest problem is quite simply that there is a significant percentage of totally inconsiderate drivers. I won't attempt to make any generalization about who they are because I believe that such drivers come from both sexes and all age groups. Speeding, lack of signalling (which is in general widespread here), and aggressive driving are the hallmarks of such drivers. The real shame is that I doubt there will be much of a change anytime soon. The problem is rooted in the peoples' general lack of consideration and empathy for others. That is not something that is easily changed.

I plan to report from time to time on this issue. I've had numerous run-ins with drivers here, both while driving and while a pedestrian. Some drivers have seemed to be genuinely surprised that I mentioned having a problem with their driving. Some have apologized. And some have wanted to fight. (Both times that happened I was almost hit while crossing the street at a pedestrian crossing. One of those drivers was totally convinced that I was in the wrong.)

But... what caused me to write about this subject was earlier in the day thinking about a situation that happened several months ago to my wife and children. They were crossing the road not far from our apartment and were nearly hit by a guy. And if that wasn't bad enough, he had the gall to make an obscene gesture to my wife after he had almost hit them. Now, in general I don't suppose that vigilanteism or revenge is really suitable, but in this case it may be called for. Having said that, I want to record this for posterity--before I forget any more than I have already.
black Alfa Romeo, licence plate number AZA 007 (or 006)
I am waiting for the day our paths cross.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I heard many times in Cyprus that they were number one in Europe in traffic fatalities. Maybe it was overall injuries/accidents. Anyway, they're nuts too. They tailgate so close that you can't see their headlights in your mirror, no matter what speed!! Overtake you anywhere (blind corners? no problem) and once in front of you slam on the breaks to make a turn!!
In the north, people thought nothing of crossing the street without looking.