Is It Safe to Drive in Latvia? 4 Road Safety Tips

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Latvia has some of the worst road safety statistics in Europe. Here are a few tips to keep you safe.

Curved asphalt road in a forest covered with snow in Latvia Photo © Getty Images/alekseystemmer

Before you hop in your hire car and start your road trip around Latvia, be aware that Latvia's roads are not in great condition and there are irresponsible drivers that often ignore road rules.

In Latvia, drivers also don't believe pedestrians should get the right of way – so before you step off the curb, make sure it's safe to do so. However, between 2010 and 2018, road deaths in Latvia have dropped by 31%.

1. Be aware of careless drivers

Traffic rules are widely ignored, and it's common to see drivers speeding dangerously and attempting risky overtaking.

It doesn't matter how confident a driver you are, you can't trust other drivers on the road in Latvia.

2. Poor road infrastructure in Latvia

Latvia's road fatality rate is among the top three countries in Europe, with 78 deaths per million inhabitants (statistics based on 2017 figures).

In comparison, the European average is 49 per million.

The Chief of the Traffic Safety Department of the State Police, Normunds Krapsis, says poor road infrastructure is one of the leading causes of road fatalities as well as the poor quality of country roads. 

3. Winter driving conditions

Driving in harsh winter conditions doesn't make getting around Latvia any easier, so try to avoid planning a road trip between the months of December to March. Temperatures reach lows of -13ºF (-25ºC), and there are snow, ice and fog to navigate.

Snow covering major roads is plowed when necessary but beware of black ice.

During winter, daylight hours dwindle down to just six hours per day.

4. Tips for road safety in Latvia

To stay safe while driving in Latvia to be alert, drive safely, study the map before you set out, and drive in daylight hours.

  • Pedestrians should only cross the road at designated crossings, and always make sure cars are going to stop before crossing
  • In winter, be careful walking on icy paths and drive slowly on icy roads. Check with locals before you set out to see if there are any black ice spots
  • Never drink alcohol and drive
  • Always use headlights to maximize visibility on the roads – winter months can be especially dreary during daytime hours
  • Avoid driving during snowstorms, but if your schedule demands it, drive slowly
  • Always stick to the speed limits, which are usually 30mi/h (50km/h) in cities and 55mi/h (90km/h) on roads outside of urban areas, and 62mi/h (100km/h) on motorways.

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3 Comments

  • Marek P said

    i went there whit my family, Latvians are for us best known for 6 toes(just a joke), and slower drivers pull closer to outer road (even behind white line ) and continue same speed to let other overtake him. I dont recomend to try it.

  • Biasedblsht said

    First of all, Latvia is Northern, not Eastern Europe. This article is biased and exaggerated. Latvians drive quite well, respect pedestrians and are well aware of road condition (being repaired intensively now) and winter driving. The ones driving like crazy chimps are usually Russians with their BMWs.

  • Michael said

    I didn't notice a problem with drivers not respecting pedestrians but they do have VERY dangerous habits of overtaking on highways, and roundabouts can be a bit of a mess for example having two lanes but next to no road markings to follow.

    I was travelling with max allowed speed at highway but locals were passing me what seemed like every 30 seconds.
    Also, they force you to drive off the marked path on the side of the road ( in effect making a third "passing lane" in the middle of the road) by blinking the headlights and driving aggressively close to you.

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