A number of restrictions for new drivers are foreseen in the changes to the Road Traffic Act. They were submitted at the end of September and have already passed the first reading. Part of the changes foresee, within 12 months, restricting new drivers from driving more powerful cars and at night between 10.00 pm and 6.00 am. The proposals have met with a lot of criticism, both from the MPs and from the High Bar Council.
In a statement to the Transportation Commission of The Supreme Bar Council it is stated that the proposed restrictions are “incoherent”, “not based on technical and medical data”, “are devoid of both life and legal logic”. Regarding the power of cars, they believe that this change is unjustified from an economic point of view. As an example, it is stated that new drivers will be forced within 12 months not to drive the available family car if it is more than 90 kW.
However, according to Burgas taxi drivers, this restriction is a good measure:
“This machine, knowing that it is less powerful and that it cannot make such a speed in such a short time, will comply with it and drive more slowly, willy-nilly.”
“In my opinion, they should really be driving less powerful cars because they don’t have the experience to even create any situation to avoid an accident without another person next to them to control them. In my opinion, there really should be some kind of restriction on new drivers not to drive very powerful cars.”
“Outright forbidden. You cannot drive a 3 ton vehicle. A 3 ton car was driving with C professional driver category. Now jeeps, passenger cars, are 2-3 tons. It mounts, there are no reflexes. For at least 2 years, he should not get into such a car.”
New drivers between the ages of 20 and 25 are in the risk group, and therefore there must be certain measures for them, commented the chairman of the Regional Driving Instructor Union, Doicho Peev. “We always recommend driving with an experienced driver in the beginning until the crisis period is over.” The question of how much power and what kind of cars to drive is a bit of an opinion. The European Union is preparing changes for drivers that will be adopted in 2024. For category B, cars up to 1.8 tons are offered for new drivers. There will also be a speed limit on highways – for example 110 km/h, so our legislation will have to be in line with what will be in line next year,” he explained.
Doicho Peev added that the courses for new drivers currently have scheduled hours for night ride. “However, if they are banned from driving during this range of the day after they get their license, when will they gain experience?” he asked.
“Still, there should be a certain tolerance in this period, but if there is a person who will be with him, things will happen in a different way.” Other countries have indeed introduced such restrictive measures. There is even a ban on driving other people for a certain period – 2,3 or 4 months. You have to be very careful and look for a balance,” explained Peev.
Taxi drivers also point out that such a measure is not necessary:
“In my opinion, there is no sense in such a restriction that they should not drive at night. When will he learn, when there is no movement?’
The Supreme Bar Council is also against the measure. In their opinion, it is stated that this time range “does not take into account the traffic during the day, and also the hours in which the dark part of the day occurs in our country”. It is given as an example that in winter it gets dark earlier around 6:00 p.m. “The question also arises as to when the new driver will gain experience driving a motor vehicle in the dark part of the day, after the legislator basically deprives him of such an opportunity for a period of one year,” the lawyer’s opinion also says.
According to Mihail Popov from the Institute for Road Safety, many of the proposed changes are in the right direction. “However, the main problem is that they are made piecemeal and cannot be expected to have a permanent effect,” he commented.
“Especially for young drivers, it’s best to incorporate assisted driving at the beginning for a period of time. If we ban driving at night or driving a powerful car, or other prohibitions that have been discussed, at some point when that period passes, that driver will suddenly get into a powerful car, suddenly get on the highway, suddenly drive at night time and he will not be prepared because he will not have driven,” added Popov.
There are divergent opinions as to whether they should be increased hours of driving courses. Some people point out that these are enough and there is always the option for more insecure drivers to pay extra for more lessons once they get their licence. According to Mihail Popov, such tasks should be included in the exams, in which the examinee can recognize in which situation it is possible to create a danger on the road.