Every member of Bulgaria’s traffic police will be on duty as the country heads into its six-day special public holiday from May 1 to 6, with traffic police pledging an intensive campaign of checks of driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs.
The six-day period from Labour Day to May 6, the latter celebrated as St George’s Day and the day of the Bulgarian military, is expected to see hundreds of thousands of motorists on the roads at the beginning and end of the special holiday period.
About 3000 police would be on duty along major highways and road routes, while media reports said that about 500 000 Bulgarians would be travelling for the May holidays.
Authorities said that they were taking steps to deal with the traffic situation. There was an outcry at Easter about traffic disruptions, the result of many travellers taking to the roads with places on many major routes undergoing repairs.
At the end of the Easter weekend, there was a large-scale of traffic police to control the flow of cars, especially at places on motorways where repairs are being done.
Expectations were that traffic would be the heaviest on the afternoon of April 30, the morning of May 1 and on May 6. Traffic police said that they expected especially intense traffic between 7pm and 8pm on April 30.
As with Easter, heavy traffic was expected on the road to Greece.
Motorists were urged to travel at off-peak times, to even out the pressure on the roads. Drivers also were reminded that it is against the law, in the event of a traffic jam on the motorway, to seek to bypass it using the emergency lane – a common, if illegal and unsafe, practice among Bulgarian motorists.
Bulgaria has experience with previous years in which similar six-day holidays were declared at the beginning of May. In the first six days of 2013, there were 106 accidents in the country, of which 102 were ascribed to reckless driving. Nine people died in road accidents over those six days.
Motorists and passengers were reminded of the importance of the use of seat belts and child restraints, and motorcyclists of using helmets. Traffic police said that failure to use seat belts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets accounted for six of the nine deaths in the previous May holidays.
Rear-seat passengers not wearing seat belts risk being propelled through the windscreen in the event of a collision.
Traffic police said that there would be stepped-up checks for speeding and for unlicensed drivers.
Regional directorates of traffic police will dispatch between five and eight patrol cars to various locations on an as-needed basis. As at the end of the 2014 Easter weekend, traffic police will be present at all places where road repairs are being done on motorways and major routes, such as that at the 67km point on Trakiya Motorway. At that latter point, on the motorway between Sofia and Plovdiv, vehicles will be routed into two alternative routes.
Motorists also were advised to drive carefully given the expected rainfall.
Bulgarian weather forecasters said that rain was expected “in many places” on Thursday and Friday. For Sofia, the forecast was for rain of varying intensity from Thursday to Monday, in Plovdiv on Thursday, Friday and Monday and in Varna on Friday, Sunday and Monday.
Seaside resorts in Bulgaria, meanwhile, reported that there remained plenty of vacancies, as in spite of numerous special offers, Bulgarians either had decided not to go to the coast at all or had chosen destinations in Greece.
(Photo: Leah Sawyer)