Higher traffic fines expected later this year

Traffic authorities have started to respond to the many critics who have spoken out about the problems caused by the huge influx of new cars on the streets of Yangon and Mandalay. Since restrictions on the importation of cars were relaxed in 2011, the arrival of several million vehicles has caused congestion and a sharp rise in the number of accidents.

Respect for the law is also a casualty, as the fines payable under outdated legislation are derisory. Now, U Chit Ko Ko, director general of the Road Transport Administration Department (RTAD), says something is going to be done about it. A draft revised transportation law has been submitted to the President’s Office, after which it will be submitted to parliament.

“We have working on the draft since 2013. After getting clearance from the Attorney General’s Office, we submitted it to the President’s Office last month. We hope the new law can go before hluttaw as soon as possible, so that it could enter into force later this year,” he told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

Under existing laws, which date back to 1964, some fines are as low as K1500 – so low they are not an effective deterrent. An order introduced by the military regime requiring an additional K50,000 payment to the current fine was revoked in October 2013 because of complaints that the fine was too high.

At one point, traffic police chiefs complained that some drivers were offering to pay for their next 10 offences in advance. It is not yet known what the new fines will be, although officials have previously said they are pushing for it to be again set at K50,000.

But taxi driver U Kyaw Soe said more than K10,000 would be too high. “K1500 is too low but I think the amount is not so important. Suspending the driving license will be a more effective deterrent,” he said.
Critics also say police should enforce the law impartially, no matter how important the offender.

Another measure already in force where fines are inadequate is the withdrawal of licences of offending drivers for six months instead of three.

Along with the surge in cars, unlicensed drivers have taken to the roads in huge but unknown numbers, which officials say is responsible for a rise in accidents. Many new drivers acquired their licences without being properly tested, often using brokers. The RTAD has banned the use of licence brokers and adopted a computer system for road rules exams to stamp out widespread cheating on paper tests.

U Chit Ko Ko cautioned that raising road fines alone would not stop people from breaking the law. “I don’t think people were breaking the law because the fines were too low – it was because they didn’t know the law. It’s a question of driver education,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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