Launching campaign against drink-driving, Bulgaria claims success in reducing road deaths
Bulgaria has made progress in the past three years in reducing the number of traffic accidents and road fatalities in the country, senior officials have said in recent days.
On September 24 2012, speaking at the launch of the annual “alcohol makes a bad driver” campaign against drink-driving, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the campaign had been paying off in recent years.
At the same event – which is sponsored by a major beer company – the head of the board of the Union of Bulgarian Motorists, Georgi Yanakiev, said that thanks to the efforts of campaigns by the state and the media, the number of road casualties had been reduced in the past one to two years, and the goal now was to cut deaths in traffic accidents in Bulgaria by half by the year 2020.
In a separate statement recently, the Interior Ministry said that vehicle accidents and road deaths had been reduced by about 11 per cent in the past three years.
However, compliance with basic road laws continues to be a problem, going by other statistics.
As part of an EU-wide campaign, Bulgarian traffic police last week conducted checks on whether motorists were wearing seatbelts. During the countrywide campaign, more than 36 500 vehicles were checked. Traffic police reported that 3882 motorists were not wearing seatbelts, nor were 693 front-seat passengers, 638 back-seat passengers, and the rate of drivers failing to secure children in proper safety seats had increased since the previous check, in March 2012.
The places that emerged during the check as the top three for drivers violating road traffic rules were Montana, at 26 per cent, the Black Sea city of Varna, at 20 per cent and the town of Turgovishte, 19 per cent.
Bulgaria currently is expanding its use of speed cameras on the national highway network.
At the same time, the country also increased speed limits on highways, to a current 140 kilometres an hour, this past summer. Going by the observations of Sofia Globe staff, this limit is violated frequently and it is an open question whether, along with illegal and unsafe overtaking and “tailgating” – failing to keep a safe following distance, it may have contributed to the season’s fatal highway accidents.
One such fatal accident, the aftermath of which was witnessed by The Sofia Globe, was on the Trakiya Motorway, at a point about 30km outside Sofia, on September 23. A luxury German car, travelling at high speed, overtook traffic, using the emergency lane. When it collided with a car that was parked in the emergency lane, the result was the death of the driver of the parked car, the driver’s wife in hospital, the three occupants of the luxury German car also in hospital, and both cars smashed beyond recognition.
It was the most serious accident on the highway after one a few weeks ago (coincidentally, the aftermath of which was also witnessed by The Sofia Globe), a multiple car collision – allegedly caused by dangerous overtaking – which left several people in hospital in critical condition, including an eight-year-old child with brain damage and serious limb injuries.
(Photo: Jason Conlon/sxc.hu)