Stay Alive – a book with a message to the young that driving is not just fun, it is a responsibility

Photo: BGNES

Traffic police have data of the number of people killed and injured on the roads in Bulgaria going back to 1951. In that year there were 202 people killed and 790 injured. Up until 1990 data show that the number of people killed in traffic accidents has been going up steadily and dramatically, reaching 1,567 in 1990. 

The “bloodiest” year was 2006 when a total of 11,258 people affected, 1,043 of whom lost their lives. Over the 1951-2018 period a little over 60,000 people have lost their lives on the roads of Bulgaria, or the population of an average Bulgarian town. The number of people injured stands at over 400,000.

It is horrific figures such as these that prompted journalist from Pleven Georgi Stoyanov to write a book “Stay Alive” to focus public attention on just how serious the problem is:

“I wrote this book because I am just fed up,” he says. “I am fed up with reading about people dying on the roads every day. And for insane reasons – driving under the influence or driving without a licence or speeding. The book “Stay Alive” focuses on the human factor.”

But Georgi Stoyanov’s idea is not just to write a book. He wants it to reach as many schoolchildren as possible:

“We shall start with several schools in my own town, Pleven. The first presentation of the book, will, in part for sentimental reasons, be at the Ivan Vazov secondary school where I spent 12 years of my life. Then there will be presentations in several other schools in the town. We have invitations from other towns – Veliko Turnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Tsarevo. I am not a traffic expert but I plan to organize meetings with older schoolchildren to talk these things over in the language they use, without clichés. I shall tell them parts of the stories, I also plan a multimedia presentation of selected shots from accidents. My idea is to reach out to the young because it seems to me that changing the habits of experienced drivers is so much more difficult. I decided that to present the subject in a way that would be easy to understand could touch many girls and boys who are yet to become drivers and they will come to realise how important it is to be sensible and to drive with a sense of responsibility so they will not be killed or become killers on the road.”

As he was writing the book Georgi Stoyanov met with people who have, one way or another, come face to face with road traffic accidents:

“The book is basically the stories of people who have been in traffic accidents, who have witnessed traffic accidents, police, friends and relatives of people killed or injured. But there are no sensations here. In some of the stories no names are used. What is important here is that some people talk about their own mistakes, others – about what they have seen, the horror and the suffering. I have included stories which show lack of self-discipline, of survival instinct. People have become really careless of their own life and the lives of others when they are on the road.”

The message Georgi Stoyanov wants to convey to all road users is as somber as it is simple:

“We need to talk and to act towards prevention. I put my heart into this book, and in the hope that, maybe, it will be helpful. The number of road traffic casualties must be reduced, however utopian that may sound. Every road accident brings so much pain and suffering. I hope that the people who read the stories will not forget them. That they will never say to themselves: this cannot happen to me. I hope that once they have read the book they will realize that a vehicle can be a weapon and can take human lives.”

English version: Milena Daynova

Photos: library

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