The Chinese Ambassador to Bucharest once compared the building of motorways in his country to what’s been achieved in Romania. He said that both countries have been engaged on motorway building for about 20 years and while the Chinese have built over 40,000 kilometers of motorway during that time, Romania has barely managed 150 KM. He offered Chinese help in building a ring road for Bucharest, but his offer was ignored and Romania’s capital city remains in gridlock.
Infrastructure is not the only problem. Romanian roads are the most dangerous in the EU. The European Transport Safety council issued a report, which compared road traffic fatalities from all over Europe, and pointed out that “only in Romania (and in Malta where the small number fluctuates widely) were the number of road deaths higher in 2009 than in 2001.” Last year 327 drivers were killed in Romania as a result of speeding, an increase of 93 compared to 2009.
Now Romania’s Senate has contributed to the problem by passing a bill which will oblige police to hand out written warnings, instead of fines, for those caught for the first time speeding, talking on mobile phones or not wearing a seatbelt. The bill passed through the Senate unanimously and has been sent to the lower House of Deputies. The problem is that Romania lacks an efficient police database and traffic police are unable to make spot checks on a driver’s record and see if it is a first offence. (Not to mention Romania’s culture of impunity that allows politicians and the wealthy rich to ignore the law completely.)
The bill’s sponsor is Florian Staicu, a Senator from the ruling Democratic Liberal Party. Mr Staicu was quoted in the newspaper’s Monday that the police are furious with this new bill: “they consider themselves the Gods of the Road. Only they decide if a driver gets fined or not.”
Valeria Cupa, a journalist with the daily newspaper Adevarul, reported on Monday that Romania is unique in the EU for another reason:
“Romania is the only EU Member State where a car stolen from another country can be legally registered. In article 21, clause 3, of the traffic law (Codul Rutier) it states that ‘exceptions can be made for cars and trailers which are under criminal investigation…which can be registered until the investigation is completed, in which case it must be written in the new registration document that ‘this car was stolen’’. Once the car has been sold a few times an owner can claim he bought it in ‘good faith’ and the authorities are obliged to register it.”