Cities and towns across Bulgaria marked November 20, the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, with church services and various initiatives – even as the death toll on Bulgaria’s roads continued to mount, possibly to match or beat the number of dead in 2015.
According to official Interior Ministry statistics, from January 1 to November 19 2016, a total of 637 people had died on Bulgaria’s roads. There had been 6665 accidents. A total of 8399 people had been injured.
For all of 2015, the number of dead was 680, injured 8946, in 7296 accidents.
Bulgaria has one of the highest rates of road deaths in the European Union, along with Romania.
According to the World Day’s official website, “the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year – to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, friends and many others who are also affected. It is also a day on which we thank the emergency services and reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster to families, communities and countries, and on ways to halt it.”
The chairperson of the Union of Bulgarian Motorists, Emil Penchev, said that the day was important because it was a time to sharpen the attention of all motorists to prevent accidents and it highlighted the victims of traffic accidents.
Just a few days before the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Bulgaria’s Parliament voted against a proposal to introduce imprisonment for speeding in cases where a motorist drives more than 60 km/h over the speed limit.
This proposal was approved at first reading in February but reading at second reading on November 15.
MPs voted to make the fine for having unlawful licence plates, those taken from another vehicle or false, 500 to 1000 leva (about 250 to 500 euro).
For “hooliganism” on the road, MPs voted to provide for three to five year in prison.
A report by Bulgarian National Radio noted that of the total number of people who caused road accidents, only about five per cent ended up behind bars.
The most common culprits for causing road accidents in Bulgaria were motorists without driving licences, the report said.
Vladimir Todorov, head of the Bulgarian Association of Accident Victims, said that this past summer, traffic police had arrested about 1000 such offenders.
“This is a serious problem and the sanctions envisaged in amendments to the Road Traffic Act will have a positive effect,” Todorov said.
However, ahead of proposals to heighten penalties for driving without a licence, the existing sanctions were seldom applied, the report said.
The current penalty for driving without a licence in Bulgaria is a fine up to 300 leva. A repeat offence within a year of the first offence carries a maximum of two years in jail.
(Screenshots via BNT)