Anyone who has driven in Bulgaria will know that these figures that are given in the report are not fabricated. Having driven for many years here now I consider myself to be lucky not to have been involved in a accident from other careless drivers. Too many near misses down to luck have played their part. Improving the roads is one thing; the main cause is to improve the driving habits of Bulgarians and that is a major difficulty.
Over 39 000 people have died in traffic accidents in the European Union in 2008, the Bulgarian news agency BTA has reported, down 8.5 per cent over the previous year.
The safest countries to drive in Europe are Sweden, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Switzerland – or less than 50 deaths per one million population, followed by Norway, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Spain, France, Denmark, Luxembourg and Italy.
Most other countries exceed the norm, with Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Poland and Lithuania reaching as high as 150 deaths per million people.
For the period 2001-2008, safety conditions in France, Luxembourg and Portugal have witnessed the most dramatic improvements, whereas in Romania and Bulgaria, they have actually deteriorated.
The European Union aims to slash road deaths in 2010 by a half in comparison to 2001 figures, but those figures appear to be too ambitious. In accordance to the current rate of decline, seven to eight more years would be necessary for this to be accomplished, although some countries like France, Belgium and Spain are indicating better improvement than others.
In 2001, a total of 54 400 people lost their lives, and since then, the annual average decrease has been about 4.4 per cent.