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Bulgarian Driving Manual


Guidelines and Instructions for Efficient Driving in Bulgaria

Foreigners living in Bulgaria are required – at some time or other – to obtain a Bulgarian driving licence.   Of course, the mandatory 200-hour instruction course is normally delivered in Bulgarian but one enterprising driving school in Sofia has helpfully translated its instruction manual into English.   Here follow the first five rules.

Rule 1 – Approaching Intersections

(a)  When approaching an intersection at which other traffic is already assembled, the Motorist must be vigilant to detect any gap in such traffic.  When a gap appears in any lane, the Motorist must immediately fill that gap, regardless of the Motorist’s intended direction of travel from the intersection.
(b)  Ideally the Motorist, on approaching an intersection at which traffic is stationary, will leave space for following vehicles by proceeding to the head of the waiting traffic, if necessary using an opposing lane to take up this position.
(c)  Where possible, the manoeuvre described in (b) should not unduly impede the movement of cross-traffic at the intersection.  It should also take account of Rule 3 below (approaching pedestrian crossings).

Rule 2 – Traffic Lights

When approaching an intersection controlled by traffic lights, the Motorist should, if there is no apparent obstruction (eg, waiting traffic, crossing pedestrians – see Rule 3), be guided by the colour displayed on the traffic lights during the approach.   Whilst entirely at the discretion of the Motorist, adherence to the following guidelines will assist the smooth flow of traffic through intersections:

(a)  Traffic light is green or is shifting from amber to green:  Remain in or shift up to top gear, maintain approach speed and proceed through the intersection.
(b)  Traffic light is amber shifting to red:  Increase approach speed to optimal safe velocity and proceed through the intersection.
(c)  Traffic light has shifted to red within the final  five seconds of approach:  Change down to third gear, adjust approach speed as appropriate and proceed through the intersection.
(d)  Traffic light is red at all times during the approach:  The traffic lights are obviously malfunctioning – apply guideline (c).

Rule 3 – Approaching Pedestrian (Zebra) Crossings

The guiding principles at pedestrian (zebra) crossings are as follows:

(a)  Pedestrians step onto zebra crossings at their own risk; and
(b)  The safe passage of vehicular traffic across a zebra crossing is entirely the responsibility of, and at the discretion of, the Motorist.

With these principles in mind, the Motorist must exercise due care and judgment when approaching a zebra crossing.  In particular:
(a)  Where a pedestrian is waiting at the edge of the crossing but appears not to be looking at the Motorist, the Motorist may proceed over the crossing.
(b)  Where a pedestrian is waiting at the edge of the crossing and appears to be looking at the Motorist, the Motorist may proceed over the crossing.
(c)  Where a pedestrian has started to cross on the crossing, the Motorist may only proceed over the crossing if, in so doing, the Motorist’s vehicle will not make contact with the pedestrian (due allowance being made for sudden, unanticipated movements by the pedestrian).

Rule 4 – One-way Traffic

In Sofia and other towns there are many streets the width of which, and/or the presence of stationary vehicles on which, does not permit two-way movement of traffic.  In such instances it is important for the following rules to be observed to ensure orderly movement of traffic:

(a)  A sign indicating that a street is one-way should ordinarily be complied with where the Motorist is able, on entering the street, to observe that a vehicle is approaching in the permitted direction of travel.
(b)  Whether or not the street is a designated one-way street, once two motorists are on the street and travelling in opposing directions, the Motorist who first entered the street shall have right of way (provided that (a) above does not apply).
(c)  In case of uncertainty in the application of (b) above, the Motorist whose vehicle has the larger engine capacity (in litres or part thereof displacement) shall have right of way.
(d)  A Motorist may, notwithstanding (c) above, elect to reduce speed to permit an opposing vehicle to pull into an available space so as to allow the Motorist to pass unimpeded.
(e)  In case (d) above applies, the Motorist must not risk a loss of control of his or her vehicle by lifting a hand from the steering wheel to acknowledge the courtesy of the opposing motorist.

Rule 5 – Following Distances

The following rule applies specifically to single-lane highways, although it may also have application to motorways and to boulevards within urban areas.

The basic rule is that a safe distance must be maintained between two vehicles travelling in the same direction.  To assess the following distance which is safe in the particular circumstances, the Motorist in the lead vehicle shall apply the following formula:

CS / EAS x EC ± SA = SFD

CS is the current speed of the lead vehicle when approached by an approaching vehicle;

EAS is the approach speed of the approaching vehicle (as estimated by the Motorist in the lead vehicle);

EC is the capacity in litres or part thereof displacement of the engine of the approaching vehicle;

SA is a speed adjustment to reflect current driving conditions (torrential rain, icy surface, etc), as determined by the lead motorist; and

SFD is the safe following distance in metres.

Having calculated the safe following distance, the lead Motorist shall have the responsibility, where the following vehicle approaches to within less than the safe following distance, to increase speed by an amount necessary to re-establish the safe following distance.
(Reproduced with kind permission of Driving School “Zero Tolerance”, Sofia, Bulgaria.  All rights reserved.)

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