Ever since training in the school playground and eventually achieving my cycling proficiency badge at ten years old, through motorcycle and car driving training, and like all U.K. road users, I have had read and been quoted the Highway Code many times. That small booklet of rules and regulations is so ingrained in our lives that we can recite and remember parts of it as clearly as the nursery rhymes we learnt as babies – albeit we may recall a significantly out of date edition!
Based on much anecdotal evidence and personal experience I am not sure there is any such thing that completely documents driving practice here in Bulgaria. You don’t have to be out on the road for too long before you have a “What the f…?” moment, as someone overtakes you in a completely inappropriate location and seemingly avoids a crash by the skin of their teeth. All too often you will see the after effects of one that did not quite make it!
With that in mind I offer here a few pointers to help the local road users avoid having a really bad day:
- You must not overtake on a blind bend
- You must not overtake on the brow of a hill
- You definitely should not do items 1and 2 at the same time
- Don’t drink alcohol before driving (or whilst driving)
- Don’t use your phone whilst driving
- You definitely should not do items 3 and 4 at the same time
- Do not do items 1-4 in any combination, at any time
- Traffic lights are not merely street decorations
- Red means stop
- Amber does not mean accelerate hard. See item 9.
- The lines in the road are not merely street decorations
- The painted arrows give a clue which lane you should be in at a junction
- Seat belts are not merely in-car decorations
- In Bulgaria we drive on the right side of the road, especially when there is a vehicle coming in the opposite direction
- Pedestrian crossing lines are not merely street decorations
- Cyclists and pedestrians are not targets
- Speed limits are a maximum, not a minimum. Speed limit signs are admittedly rare, but should be observed when seen. They are not merely street decorations
- When parking in a car park, look for a marked bay and manouevre between the lines. One bay per vehicle ought to suffice
- When parking on the street……well, try parking, instead of abandoning.
- Also, when parking, remember the golden rule: If you can’t park it, don’t drive it!
- Did I mention the over-taking thing?
- When in a queue at traffic lights, it is not acceptable to drive down the left side of the street and cut in the front of the queue. If in doubt, refer to item 14.
- Trust me when I say, you really do not have to be in front of the car ahead. Again if in doubt, refer to item 14.
- It is not generally not acceptable to stand beside you car to urinate
- It is definitely not acceptable to crouch beside you car to defecate
- If in doubt about whether any of the above apply in a given situation, think “What would be the courteous thing to do?” A bit of politeness and courtesy will go along way
- Take note of all the roadside memorials – they are placed in memory of those who ignored various items in this list. Would you like one?
I hope that is helpful advice, and I wish you many long happy years of safe driving. Finally, try not to kill yourself…..or anyone else. See item 27 for more details.