ISF begins crackdown on traffic violations in Lebanon (video)Bookmark this
BEIRUT: The heaviest punishments for traffic violations under a new law came into force last week, as road safety organizations stressed strict and continuous implementation of the new rules if they were to be effective. An ISF statement last week said that police had begun enforcing new punishments for Category 5 violations, such as exceeding the speed limit by more than 60 kilometers per hour, driving without a license, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Those found guilty could have their car impounded, be fined from LL1 million to LL3 million, or be sentenced to up to two years in prison.
The latter measure will come in effect by April 2015, along with all other articles yet to be implemented. There are 240 articles in total.
Under the previous rules, speeding fines were set at LL50,000, and those caught driving without a license only had to pay a minimal fine.
As of Friday last week, mobile traffic cameras had recorded 55 Category 5 speed violations, according to the ISF.
Under the new traffic law, each driver begins with 12 points on their driver’s license.
Points are deducted for violations, with the number of points corresponding to the seriousness of the violation. If all 12 points are lost, the license is invalidated and the driver will be barred from getting a new one for six months, during which time he must take a course at a driving school.
Punishments for Category 1-4 violations have not been implemented yet.
ايها اللبنانيون انتبهوا : لا رحمة بعد اليوم في مخالفات السير
أيها اللبنانيون عليكم من اليوم وصاعداً بالتنبه، فقانون السير الجديد الذي سيبداً تطبيقه كاملاً في نيسان المقبل لن يرحم أحداً.
قوى الأمن الداخلي بدأت تطبيق الغرامات والمخالفات من القانون الجديد بالمادتين الخامسة والسادسة، أما عقوبة السجن فتبدأ في نيسان.
Joe Daccache, deputy head of road safety organization YASA International, praised the new law, but warned that its effectiveness hinged on how it was implemented.
“The old traffic law was not that bad, but the problem lay in implementation,” he said, questioning whether the ISF was up to the task.
He said there were only 10 to 15 speed radars in the entire country – greatly below the required number.
Daccache added that there was a significant delay between the time drivers commit a violation and when they are notified. “Suddenly, you get a ticket for a violation that you allegedly made one or two years ago. You cannot remember if you really made it or not.
“By the time you are informed about the violation, the deadline for requesting a clarification would have expired and the fine would have become a judicial verdict by the traffic court.”
Currently, drivers are informed of their fine through tickets delivered by Liban Post.
They can also check the ISF website to see whether they have any outstanding violations.
“The best way to inform a violator about his fine is through text message and give him one week to seek clarification,” Daccache said.
He also noted that many cars had forged license plates or no plates at all, making it impossible for traffic cameras to identify drivers.
A source from the ISF acknowledged that the number of cars with missing or forged license plates had increased in recent years due to the deteriorating security situation, particularly in the north. He said, however, that the ISF was “following up on this issue.”
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said the ISF was working on increasing the number of speed cameras across the country.
As for the delay in informing violators about their fines, the source said that tickets were still being manually written out in police stations before being sent to Liban Post.
He added that Liban Post was finding it difficult to locate the addresses of some violators, which further delayed the process of informing them about their fines.
The ISF was working on digitizing the process, he said.
In the meantime, he urged drivers to regularly monitor their record through the ISF website.
He acknowledged that the implementation of other items of the new traffic law, which was published in the Official Gazette in October 2012, was slow, due to political instability and the need to prioritize managing the security situation.
Lena Gebran, the deputy president of road safety organization Kunhadi, said that measures by the ISF, media coverage and awareness campaigns had already slightly reduced car accidents this year.
Citing ISF statistics, Gebran said that up until the first week of December, 537 people were killed in car accidents this year, compared with the 650 deaths that were recorded in 2013.
“The implementation [of the law] should not take place for only one or two months, or else people will not take it seriously,” she warned.
Echoing Daccache, she said that delivering tickets late would minimize their power as a deterrent.
Gebran also noted that the current number of traffic cameras was not enough.
“I think if they get enough radar monitors for the roads linking Beirut to the south, north and the mountains, this will be sufficient. These are the roads which see [the most] speeding,” Gebran said.
“They made this decision [to implement the law], we should clap for them.
“God willing, things will be on the right track and implementation will be strict and serious.”