x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Speeding rich drivers could soon feel the pinch

Drivers who speed or jump a red light could be fined according to how much money they make - and on the spot, under new proposals to make traffic offences more painful.

DUBAI // Drivers who speed or jump a red light could be fined according to how much money they make - and on the spot, under new proposals to make traffic offences more painful. Currently, all drivers pay the same fines. That means that some wealthier drivers collect dozens of tickets, but do not feel much of a financial pinch. They can do so in the knowledge that multiple driving offences will be cleared from their record within a year and that the fines will make no difference to their insurance premiums.

Since most people also only pay their fines once a year, they also fail to make the connection between what they have done wrong and the penalty. "If someone is earning Dh50,000 (US$13,000) or Dh60,000 a month, a few thousand dirhams worth of fines is nothing," Dr Ali al Marzouqi, the head of public health and safety at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), told the Arab Children's Health Congress yesterday.

"Of course, to some people it is, so it would not be fair to increase the amounts for everyone. Mr al Marzouqi was one of a number of officials who made a link between the lack of effective penalties and the UAE's dismal road safety record. They indicated the DHA was working with the Roads and Transport Authority on a plan to reduce accidents and deaths that could include linking traffic fines to income and fining people on the spot. "We can link car insurance to the numbers of fines people get," he added. "Someone who has been driving safely for the whole year should have a better insurance rate than someone that has had several accidents or speeding tickets." In most western countries, insurance premiums are calculated according to a driver's record of motoring offences, among other things. Here, insurance companies do not have access to driving records and any black points for bad driving are erased from driving licences after a year. Mustafa Vazayil, the managing director of Gargash Insurance, said: "It would be much better if insurance companies had access to drivers' records. Good drivers could be rewarded with lower premiums." munderwood@thenational.ae