Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 17 September 2019

Forcing UAE expats to pay traffic fines before travelling could ‘change behaviour’

The measure was a recommendation put forth by the Federal Traffic Council and, if approved, expatriates will be stopped and asked to pay the traffic fines that they have accumulated to date.

ABU DHABI // Expatriates will have to pay their traffic fines before they can leave the country for business or holidays, under a plan being considered.

The idea has been put forward by the Federal Traffic Council and, if approved, expats will be told to pay their fines at airports and land borders or miss their trip.

Road-safety experts say the move could make motorists think twice about driving more safely.

Read more: Easy ways to pay your traffic fines in the UAE

“It’ll create a slight change in behaviour as some expatriates will try to pay extra attention to their driving,” said Dr Salaheddine Bendak, an associate professor in industrial engineering at the University of Sharjah.

“Also, they will be reminded more often of their traffic fines than when renewing their vehicle registration.”

The council said there had been many cases of expats leaving fines unpaid and not returning.

Allowing fines to build up until the annual vehicle licence renewal is common across the GCC, but it does little to enhance changes in driver behaviour, said Simon Labbett, project director at Omani road-safety body Sheida.

“Changes in behaviour will occur if the driver is made aware of the fine and payments are required,” Mr Labbett said.

A law requiring expats in Oman to clear fines before they left the country came into force in June last year.

Dr Britta Lang, a psychologist who leads British consultancy Transport Research Laboratory UAE, said research showed the effects of punishment were greater if it came straight after the offence.

“In this case, drivers could see the link between their behaviour and its consequence,” Dr Lang said.

“Requiring motorists to pay unpaid tickets before they leave the country can be effective,” said Michael Dreznes, executive vice president of the International Road Federation. “This should be required for all drivers, not just expatriates.”

Collecting fines quickly was also critical to deterring bad driving.

“Every effort should be made to ensure prompt collection of fines,” Mr Dreznes said. “If I knew I would never have to pay a fine, why would I be concerned about getting a ticket and a fine?”

Jordanian Mousa Al Hindi said he did not see anything wrong with being asked to pay before heading on holiday or a business trip.

“I regularly check my traffic fines on the website and pay them at the end of the month, along with other bills,” said the 45-year-old engineer. “Many end up paying thousands of dirhams in traffic fines when they renew their vehicle registration.”

Meanwhile, the 50 per cent discount on Abu Dhabi traffic fines, in place since 2010, ended on Monday.


Updated: August 1, 2016 04:00 AM