Driving Europe crazy

  • 2007-08-10
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - The unenviable reputation of many Lithuanian drivers as dangerous and frequently drunken accidents waiting to happen is spreading across Europe, the Lietuvos Rytas daily has reported.

Last year, foreign police officers seized 500 Lithuanian driver's licences. 90 percent of them were taken in cases of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Exploiting loopholes that European legislators are hoping to close, drivers from Lithuania who get caught abroad tend not to be too worried about their convictions as they get their licences back in Lithuania, where the documents are sent after they are taken by foreign authorities.

"We have received several inquiries from Great Britain, where Lithuanians have [seriously exceeded] the speed limits," Deputy Director of the Traffic Supervision Service of the Lithuanian Police, Gintaras Aliksandravicius said.

In 2006, at least 12,000 foreign drivers avoided paying charges such as parking tickets and the congestion charge in London, with a large proportion of evaders being Poles and Lithuanians, the newspaper reports.

All three Baltic states regularly feature at the top of European league tables for road traffic accidents and deaths.