New Qashqai; Danube 1 potholes; Russia roads; Istanbul hit and run

A round up of roads and driving news from Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Sweden, Russia and Turkey.

A new spec Nissan Qashqai - including the all-important panoramic sunroof as standard - has got the thumbs up from Autocar. Available in all engine and transmission combinations, the new 360 trim also includes 18" wheel, part leather trim and privacy glass. Prices start at £23,400. The only thing you cannot have is Xenon lights.

A new spec Nissan Qashqai – including the all-important panoramic sunroof as standard – has got the thumbs up from Autocar. Available in all engine and transmission combinations, the new 360 trim also includes 18″ wheel, part leather trim, privacy glass and an all-round parking system, hence 360. Prices start at £23,400. The only thing you cannot have is Xenon lights.

Greece – a national roads blitz at the weekend saw 27,374 vehicles pulled over and 2,345 violations, a strike rate of 8.6%. Nearly 30% were uninsured; 20% riding without a helmet; 17% had no MOT and nearly 15% DUI (an overall DUI rate of 1.3%).

Romania/Bulgaria – a large pothole appearing suddenly on the Bulgarian side of the Ruse-Giurgiu bridge on the Romanian border has put extra emphasis on the soon-to-open alternative Danube bridge. Both the president and transport minister visited yesterday. A ban on vehicles over 10 tonnes on Monday was lifted yesterday but not before logjam on the Svishtov ferry. The new toll bridge, the only other fixed link across the entire Bulgaria-Romania Danube border, Vidin-Calafat, nearly 350km west of Giurgiu-Rusu, will open on May 9th, Europe Day. It is expected to carry 100,000 vehicles each day. Also, in the first case we’ve heard, Bulgarian police detained Syrian refugees yesterday near the Turkish border. The family of eleven people, including three children, were stopped at Matochina, not far from the E80 main road from Istanbul.

Cyprus – the Cyprus Attorney General dropped traffic charges against his own son and freely admitted doing so on TV. The 32 year lawyer had been caught over the limit and without an MOT or road tax. In an interview this week, Cyprus AG Petros Clerides said since he had done it for other people’s children it would be ‘unjustified’ not to do it for its own. According to the report many driving offences, including drink driving, have been subject to an on-the-spot fine regime since last summer. The Cyprus limit is 0.5 (compared to 0.8 in the UK). For more on driving in Cyprus see here.Sweden – a truck driver was killed on Wednesday on one of the country’s unguarded level crossings.

Sweden – a truck driver was killed on Wednesday on one of the country’s unguarded level crossings.

Jenson Button filing a comerical for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team sponsor Johnny Walker.

Jenson Button filing a comerical for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team sponsor Johnny Walker. Yesterday.

Russia – ‘Russia has two foes, fools and roads’ goes an old proverb. Following high profile coverage in UK of potholes in the south central city of Samara this week, the city mayor has bumped up the roads maintenance fund by 50%. The Times, Daily Mail and Sun all carried reports of giant sinkholes swallowing entire vehicles. 70% of the roads in the region are said to be in bad condition. Last month, a flash mob spray painted potholes in the Moscow area to highlight a similar though not so serious problem. Meanwhile prosecutors in the Russian capital have unearthed a corrupt ring selling driving licences. Untrained drivers are believed to be an important factor in the dire Russian road safety stats: 28,000 people were killed in RTAs in 2012. Also, in Veliky Novgorod, north west Russia – just over 100 miles from the Estonian border – a high ranking local official and associates have been charged with misappropriating $16m of the regional roads budget. The key suspect was hospitalized after a raid on his home and has since been breathing via an artificial ventilator.

Turkey – a Swiss woman is facing a lengthy prison sentence following a hit-and-run incident. Andrea Köppel, wife of Switzerland’s consul to Istanbul, has been charged with ‘reckless injury’ after allegedly colliding with a motorbike in early February. One of the victims was seriously injured. Prosecutors say they have witness and video evidence and are calling for a sentence of up to three years. Mrs Köppel’s blood alcohol level was reportedly above the limit when tested five hours after the incident.

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