Bulgaria joins in annual EU campaign against drink-driving

Bulgarian traffic police are stepping up checks for drink-driving and those behind the wheel after using illegal drugs, part of an annual operation co-ordinated by the European Union traffic police network Tispol.

The operation began on December 8 and continues until December 14 2014.

During the checks, apart from tests for drink-driving or illegal drug use, traffic police also will check whether motorists have compulsory insurance.

Drink-driving and drug use account for one of the three main causes of serious accidents on the roads of Europe, according to a statement by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry on December 8.

All member states of Tispol had expressed concern about the growing number of drivers who drive after drinking or under the influence of drugs, the statement said.

A recent report by the OECD prepared for the EU said that the EU region has the highest alcohol consumption in the world.

Measured through monitoring annual sales data, it stands at slightly more than 10 litres of pure alcohol per adult on average across EU member states in 2012.

Lithuania, Estonia and Austria reported the highest consumption of alcohol, with 12 litres or more per adult. At the other end of the scale, southern European countries (Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus) along with Nordic countries (Norway, Iceland, and Sweden) have relatively low levels of consumption, with six to eight litres of pure alcohol per adult, the report said.

While the EU average is 10.1 litres per capita a year among people older than 15, Bulgaria’s figure is slightly higher, at 10.2 litres.

In Bulgaria, the blood-alcohol limit for driving is 0.50 promille.

A driver detected with confirmed levels in excess of 1.20 promille will lose his or her driving licence and may be imprisoned for up to one year.

A driver with confirmed blood alcohol levels of between 0.50 and 1.20 promille has his or her licence withdrawn for a period (six to 12 months) and is fined 500 to 1000 leva.

In case of refusal to submit to an alcohol or narcotic test, the fine is from 500 to 1000 leva and suspension of the driving licence from 12 to 18 months.

While the number of registered traffic accidents in Bulgaria was up 3.4 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, the number of fatalities stayed almost the same.

The total number of registered fatalities in Bulgaria in 2013 was 597 compared to 601 for 2012.

Bulgaria has 7.9 road deaths per 100 000 compared to the EU average of 3 in 100 000 in 2012.

Statistics for recent years show Bulgaria as having, along with Greece, the fourth-highest road fatality rate in the EU. The highest road death rate was in Lithuania, followed by Poland and Romania.

According to official statistics, the main causes of road accidents Bulgaria are, in order, speeding, driver fatigue, overtaking when it is not safe to do so, and failure to maintain a proper following distance, for example on motorways.

(Photo: Cathy Kaplan)



The Sofia Globe staff

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