Bulgarian traffic police have begun giving motorists brochures in four languages – Bulgarian, Turkish, German and English – explaining recent changes to the Road Traffic Act and the fines for breaking the rules.
This was announced on August 15 by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry, which said that the leaflets were aimed mainly at foreign visitors to Bulgaria.
The brochures explain that motor vehicles must have a “vignette” sticker, signifying that road tax has been paid. Penalties for not displaying one range from 300 to 3000 leva, depending on the type of vehicle. The vehicle also may be ordered withdrawn from the road.
In Bulgaria, motor vehicles must have their headlights switched on 24 hours a day when in use. The penalty for not having them on ranges from 20 to 150 leva.
Wearing seat belts is compulsory. A driver without a seat belt will be fined 50 leva, and 50 leva per passenger not wearing a seat belt. A passenger not wearing a seat belt also is liable to be fined 50 leva.
The brochure points out that driving or stopping in the emergency lane is forbidden unless the vehicle has broken down or the driver or a passenger has a health problem. The driver is liable to a fine of 150 leva.
It also details the penalties for drink-driving. These can range up to 1000 leva and suspension of the driving licence for a year.
Motorists who fail to obey temporary traffic restrictions face penalties including a fine of 300 leva and a month’s driving licence suspension. Drivers who fail to obey the instructions of traffic police may be fined 1000 leva and a three-month driving licence suspension.
The Interior Ministry said that the leaflets were being distributed at Bulgaria’s busiest border checkpoints – Kalotina, Kulata, Makaza, and Danube Bridge. At Kalotina, 100 000 leaflets had been provided. The large number took into account that on August 13 alone, 40 000 people passed the checkpoint.
Road Traffic Control chief inspector Rossen Rapchev said that the new rules and the accompanying sanctions were extremely strict and it was very important that citizens of foreign countries crossing the territory of Bulgaria were informed about them.
Noting that sanctions could include the removal of the registration plate of the car, he said that it was illegal in Bulgaria to drive a car without its front licence plate. The only way for such a car to leave the country would be for it to be loaded on to another vehicle.
“We already have such cases and the owners of these cars leave them on paid parking lots in the country,” he said.
The most frequent breach of Bulgaria’s driving rules by foreigners was proceeding on a road in spite of a temporary ban – such as a heavy lorry driving on a road from which they had been temporarily barred from entering.
Many foreign lorries did not comply with the bans and so were subject to serious sanctions, he said.
The head of the Kalotina border checkpoint, Svetoslav Kostadinov, said that “all necessary measures” had been taken to provide sufficient staffing and automated workplaces to carry out safe and efficient border checks, the Interior Ministry said.
Kostadinov said that Kalotina was an external border and control was extremely important for all citizens there and in the country, the statement said.
(Photos: Bulgarian Interior Ministry press centre)