Revised traffic fines poised to take effect | Sunday Observer

Revised traffic fines poised to take effect

The formulation of a new Gazette setting out the revised traffic fines is currently in the pipeline, set to come into force by the end of this month. The move, which is a result of a 2017 budget proposal will see traffic fines relating to several identified serious offences revised to a thumping Rs 25,000 while fines for a number of other offences have been revised as well.

According to Dr Sisira Kodagoda, Chairman, National Road Safety Council, the new Gazette bringing into effect the revised traffic fines will be released in a week. “Over 50 percent of the documentation in relation to the Gazette has now been completed” he said, adding that the Gazette will definitely come into force before the month’s end.” He said, the delay is due to the need to elaborate and define certain offences so that motorists will not be unfairly penalized by the Police.


 

Accordingly, when it comes into effect motorists driving without a valid licence, employing a driver without a licence, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving into an unprotected railway road and driving without valid insurance will incur a fine of Rs 25,000.

Spot fines for speeding have been revised as follows:

= For speeding 20 percent above the speed limit, a fine of Rs 3,000;

= Between 20-30 percent above the limit, a fine of Rs 5,000;

= Between 30-50 percent above the limit, a fine of Rs 10,000;

= Speeding over 50 percent above limit, fine of Rs 15,000.

Spot fines for several other offences have also been revised under the recommendations made by the Cabinet.

Dr Kodagoda says, while the revised fines will not eliminate traffic violations, he believes, at least 50 per cent of the violations committed will reduce due to the increased fines. “The aim of the government is to reduce road traffic violations and accidents through the new fines¨ he said, adding that the affordable fines in existence made motorists nonchalant about abiding by road traffic laws. “We believe the new fines will ensure they are more careful, and, it has worked in other countries,” he said.

¨Some say, certain Police officers will accept higher bribes with the new fines coming into effect, but a person who is a repeat offender will not be able to afford to pay such bribes several times¨ he said, adding that therefore drivers will be more law abiding. With a new traffic CCTV system and the fine system also in the offing, Dr Kodagoda said he believes issues of bribes will be resolved in the near future, thus making the new fines more effective.

However, while the date of implementation looms near the new revisions have been met with mixed feelings by various stakeholders. The Sunday Observer spoke to several stakeholders to garner their opinions regarding the revised traffic fines.


¨We, as the All Island Three Wheeler Drivers Union are in support of the fines¨ Dharmasekara says.

“Our union has always been supportive of the move. This was the best proposal in the 2017 budget despite what its original motive was. Wrongdoers must be duly penalized.While imposing a fine of Rs 25, 000 on all other offences is fair, however we have our reservations regarding the revised fine for overtaking from the left.

¨In Sri Lanka though motorists must drive on the left, you notice many cars drive on the right. Therefore, overtaking from the left is inevitable. It is as if drivers are being induced to commit an offence. Therefore, the decision to impose a fine of Rs 25 000 for overtaking from the left should be revisited by the decision makers.

“While the revised fines are a welcome change and can act as a deterrent, the law must be imposed equally on all. Irrespective of whether the offender is a powerful person or not, the Police must apply the law in a fair and just manner, only then will the new move be effective”.


He appears to have similar views regarding the revised fines.

“A fine of Rs 25,000 for overtaking from the left is unfair. Although many transport organizations were against this, the authorities have refused to back down.

“This gives the Police an opportunity to fine drivers as they please. We have raised objections regarding the issue.

“How can you define this offence? Implementing a fine for this offence is not practical. If they are to implement this they have to explain and elaborate on the offence better.

It is important to streamline the public transport system while also ensuring that drivers are better disciplined.

“Therefore we will support the new fines. We believe traffic violations and accidents will reduce as a result”.

The three wheeler unions were supportive of the new revised fines.


“We have continuously been an ardent opposer of the move. A small increase may be needed, but such high amounts would create more corruption. Rs 25,000 is above the average monthly income of a person in Sri Lanka and will not be affordable by many.

“Moreover, we do not believe that accidents will reduce, instead bribes paid to Police officers will increase. We are not against all fines but some offences need to be defined better, for example, what constitutes reckless driving is questionable.

¨We are also against the Rs 25,000 fine for not having an insurance, as one may forget to renew it. The government is trying to earn from the helpless, for the simple human error of forgetting.


He says the new fines are “unfair”, that paying such fines would not be a problem for VIPs, but the common man would have to face serious issues.

“Rs 25, 000 is a bit excessive, perhaps, drivers should be let off with a warning for the first offence committed, and then later fined if they repeat the offence. The law does not apply to VIPs but if a common man is unable to pay the fine he will have to face imprisonment. The rates of accidents should be controlled and the country must develop, but fines also must be practical,” he says. 

 

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