Mixed reactions as Abu Dhabi Police scrap discount on traffic fines
ABU DHABI // The move to scrap the 50 per cent discount on traffic fines in Abu Dhabi has received mixed reactions from experts and residents.
Abu Dhabi Police said the decision to, in effect, double the cost of fines from August 1 came after a “thorough and in-depth” study of traffic safety measures.
Experts praised the move as a positive step towards saving lives on the roads.
“Fine discounts undermine the driving behaviour they are applied to correct,” said Simon Labbett, project director at Omani road safety body Sheida.
“They imply that the offence is not that serious or ‘buy one, get one free’. A penalty should be undesirable and it should be something to avoid.”
Mr Labbett said it was important for fines to be due for payment shortly after the offence was committed. “Annual payment and discovery of the fines are unlikely to lead to a behaviour change.”
Waleej Al Khatheeri, 18, an Emirati university student, said having to pay the full amount would make drivers think twice before hitting the accelerator.
“I think it’s a good move,” Mr Al Khatheeri said. “Reckless drivers should be made to pay hefty fines.”
But Lubna, 26, also an Emirati, said authorities should tell drivers where any new radar cameras were installed. She has Dh8,000 in unpaid traffic fines, mostly for speeding.
“There are two new radars near my house so I most likely got a fine while passing through both radars,” Lubna said.
“I think those driving up to 160kph should pay the full fine, while those exceeding the speed limit by only 5 to 10kph should have a discount.”
Steep fines will hit motorists on low and middle incomes hard, said Mark Reyes, 29, a Filipino salesman in Al Ain who paid half of what he owed in traffic fines last month.
“Those who end up with a lot of traffic fines may not be able to afford them,” Mr Reyes said.
Police introduced the 50 per cent discount for unpaid traffic fines in June 2010, although motorists who committed serious offences would still have their vehicles impounded and accumulate 24 black points.
The idea to end the discount was first announced in May by Brig Hussain Al Harthi, director general of central operations at Abu Dhabi Police.
Seventy-seven people died on the emirate’s roads in the first three months of this year, a 43 per cent increase on the same period last year, police said.
They said that removing the discount will reinforce the traffic safety plan drawn up by Abu Dhabi Municipality and the Urban Planning Council.
It was also in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, which has a goal of reducing traffic deaths to 5 per cent a year for every 100,000 people.
The emirate has recorded 489 road accidents so far this year, compared with 477 in the same period last year.
Injuries more than doubled, from 36 to 76.