Driving in Bulgaria: The problems and the good examples

Written by on February 6, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Driving in Bulgaria: The problems and the good examples

Driving in Bulgaria, and in fact in the entire Balkans region, is a rather dangerous adventure. The road death toll in 2017 was either 678 or 682, depending on the source.

On average, two Bulgarians die on the country’s roads every day. Bulgaria has the worst road accident fatality rate in the European Union, at 99 per one million inhabitants.

Compared to 2016, there was only a tiny decrease of road deaths.

The following are some of the aspects which make driving in Bulgaria unsafe, compared to other European countries.

Infrastructure and law:

> The state of the Bulgarian road network is obviously bad. Even Ministries of Foreign Affairs from several countries warn their citizens of the infamous Bulgarian roads.

> Bulgarian roads are plastered with millions of potholes and other kinds of damage. In cities, potholes annoy drivers and damage vehicles. Outside of cities, they also affect the safety of all drivers and passengers in a negative way.

Bad roads pose one of the dangers connected to driving in Bulgaria. Photo source: Youtube.

> The signage on the country’s roads is bad. This does not only lead to drivers getting lost, unless they use GPS, but also affects safety on the roads in a negative way. Obtacles, damage and other dangers, such as sudden sharp curves, are often not being announced on signs.

> In some respects, the legislation is more than questionable. This applies to the National Assembly’s decision not to require winter tyres in winter. Some years ago, a decision was taken to increase the maximum speed to 140 kph on Bulgaria’s motorways, in spite of the damage even there, and in spite of the fact that many cars driven in the country are old and not safe.

> Corruption also has a negative effect on road safety. Last spring, 14 employees of the State Motor Vehicle Inspectorate were arrested, for allgedly selling drivers licences. What surfaced there was probably only the tip of the iceberg. Authorities estimate that at least 30,000 Bulgarians drive without license. The corruption might also affect the mandatory technical tests of all vehicles.

> The illumination at zebra crossings and other critical parts of roads is mostly insufficient.

> The enforcement of the traffic laws is not effective, in part because of the corruption.

Other aspects which make driving in Bulgaria a dangerous endeavour, include the following points:

> The driving culture. In this country, many rich individuals in expensive cars believe laws do not apply to them. They try to push law-abiding drivers out of their way on motorways, they ignore the required safety distance, and they scare and annoy other drivers, mostly on purpose.

> Driving mistakes made by many drivers, always the same ones, suggest there might be deficiencies in the area of driving education.

> Too many drivers are talking into their cell phones while on the road.

In Bulgaria, many owners of expensive vehicles believe they own the roads.

The list goes on and on. Awareness campaigns regarding safety on the roads might be advisable. So would changing laws and enforcing them.

Actually, one authority, the Union of Bulgarian Motorists, had a good idea. It is a campaign called “Best Young Driver in Bulgaria”. Bulgarian National Television quoted Traffic Police chief Boyko Ranovski. He supports the initiative and said good training could play a role in reducing road accidents. He is definitely right.

Drivers up to 26 years of age can take part in the competition, as long as they were never fined for traffic offences. First they have to pass an online test similar to a drivers licence exam, before doing a practical test.

The 30 best participants will be invited to something they should avoid on the country’s roads: It is a race, on the track in the village of Kaloyanovo.

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