Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Road monkeys in Latvia (videoblog)

I have made two R-rated (for language) videodiaries of driving in Latvia that were shot while driving to the beach at the White Dune (Baltā Kāpa) in the Pabaži district of Saulkrasti, Latvia. To be fair, driving has improved somewhat and there are reports that the number of cases of "aggressive driving" have decreased by 68 %, according to the police. Were it so...

I suggest you click through to the YouTube site to get the best viewing experience.


rusantro said...

But this is the only one highway in Latvia, where drive like monkeys. All in all remaining areas, more or less decently. However, the huge accident happens in the civilized world - http://www.nowpublic.com/world/germany-autobahn-pileup-259-car-crash-66-injured-no-deaths

Anonymous said...

But your insulting comments are not better than drivers. Go back to your beloved USA.

Juris Kaža said...

I think these insults are deserved and accurate. Why do you think they are not?

Anonymous said...

Words are well deserved. And these are just words but these savages on road are real safety risk. Problem is that driving community haven't seen any civilized way how to drive so nearly anyone is approving these actions. Well but if everyone in lane would use horns and call rude words on few who violate rules we would see different picture perhaps.

Tõnu Samuel said...

Here in Estonia situation normalised a lot because strong penalties introduced. Speeding 20km/h over exeed limit results loss of licence for 3 months at least (plus some hundred EUR fee etc). Do it second time within two years and you get much more.
Driving over 40km/h limit makes sure you will be without licence for a while. And what is most important - if you have any record os past violations you will be taken directly to jail. You sit there till morning until judge decides what to do.
And most important - you cannot tip police here. If you do, you get criminal case for sure. Tipping to police is worst thing in Latvian traffic. Money talks.

Bleveland said...

# Tõnu Samuel:

You're "spot on" when it comes to the corrupted (traffic) police force. It was more than obvious that there were significantly more traffic policemen on the way than the previous few years. I guess this is a result of the crisis; corruption increases.
Recently the Latvian government gave them a new "tool" to play with (I guess as a compensation for their reduced wages).

Since it no longer is allowed for Latvian citizens (with residence in Latvia) to drive foreign registered cars in Latvia the police got a legitimate reason to harass any foreign registered car.
So there they were standing; shortly after the ro-ro ferry from Stockholm arrived, on a totally idiotic spot
obstructing all traffic and creating severe danger for all drivers and themselves. Their mission was clear: pull over as many foreign cars as possible hoping that they were driven by Latvians.
The regulation was officially made to avoid Latvians from driving (mostly) Lithuanian cars avoiding both road taxes, insurances and speeding fines. One can really wonder what kind of priorities are made in this country. It can hardly be Latvians driving Lithuanian cars that drove Latvia into bankruptcy. Anyway the corrupted Latvian police obviously found a new source for their stinky business. It is apparently up to the (Latvian) driver to proof that he/she is a resident in another country while driving a foreign registered car. In Latvia that means lots of papers, official translations and loads of stamps. Not many people have that and that's why cars of any nationality - Swedish, Norwegian, German - were pulled over. There is no point in driving for instance a car registered in Norway as permanent car in Latvia since this would be way more expensive, but formally the regulation prohibits Latvians driving any foreign registered car and thus are all subject for "grave suspicion".

Needless to say, as I have been told by a Latvian girl living in Sweden driving here Swedish car in Riga - all trouble - confiscation of car, jail, driving license etc - could be avoided by a minor "coffee money" fee payed directly into the pocket of the police man (20 Ls was suggested in this case). Here Swedish registration papers stating her name and her Swedish ID were not enough proof according to the policeman. She was brave enough to ask the policeman all details about his mission (names, who was in charge of the "operation") and she started to make a phone call to check it all out. Suddenly the policeman "believed" her and she was allowed to leave the scene of the "crime" without any "payments".
A Norwegian guy I met on the way back from Latvia was pulled over and when it went up for the policeman that he wasn't Latvian all of a sudden he was accused of speeding and talking into his cell phone while driving. None of this was true, but once again, trouble could be avoided for a small "fee". Even he refused and asked them to follow their standard procedure for such "violations". The policeman walked away with car papers, passport and driving license, but returned shortly after giving the entire bunch back while waiving the guy away without any comment. They obviously didn't want to waste any time on a "tiresome customer" and went on looking for an easier victim prepared to pay the "straight into the pocket fee".

During my stay I visited Riga several times and usually passed Krasta Iela. At any occasion I could count at least 10 traffic policemen looking out for their daily diner. Apparently you shouldn't even bother to go to the police when you get robbed on the streets of Riga. Due to the crisis the police has no longer the resources to "shoot your stuff".

Mr.Key said...

There is only one way how to fight corruption.. and the patience shrinks.. people start fighting just for fun. The latest real example is mobile photo radar which was shot at by a gun! Way to go! :D

My Good, I'm really screwed up after reading last comments. It's a tragedy that society here is supporting those corrupted policeman by silence and by being ones who give bribes..

And where is the media that covers up how bad is corruption? Yeah, there is a magazine "Klubs" which promotes luxury lifestyle, often writing about people whose wealth source is absolutely unclear.. People watch, read and see that it's normal.. I think that media and low quality journalism plays a big role to this "fail".

Karl Lindberg said...

You call these monkeys ....? I suggest you go to Poland.... you will find gorillas ... scores of them !!... on top of that Latvian roads are very good , polish are a disaster..really a scary experience !