Increased fines for traffic offences are a key addition to the new Road Safety and Transport Bill, which is being drafted to replace the RSTA Act of 1999.
“There is a need to increase traffic fines because the current amount has lost their deterrent effect,” a RSTA official said.
The major traffic offences are driving under influence of alcohol and drugs, hit and run, driving without valid documents and without a license. Driving intoxicated is recorded as the highest offence every year.
According to a RSTA report there were 31 cases of driving intoxicated, 15 hit and run cases and 14 cases of driving without a valid license in the first two months of 2017.
A driver or an operator found driving or operating under the influence is currently imposed a fine of Nu 1,750.
The new bill states that if, “An authorised person finds blood alcohol concentration of a driver exceeds 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters the driver is deemed under the influence of NDPS abuse, they may demand the driver or operator to immediately hand over his or her driving license and driver certificate, direct the driver and operator to retain the car or any of other machines with the authorized person and suspend the driving license and driver certificate”.
Cases of hit and run and driving without a valid driving license, are also increasing according to road safety officials.
The bill states that a motor vehicle driver who is involved in a road crash with another vehicle or property or human being, and leaving the scene without offering help to those who need assistance, shall be imposed a fine of not more than the cost of the damaged property and in the offence of hit and run of a person in danger, a fine of not more than Nu 50,000 shall be imposed.
Speeding is another major issue. Any driver, operator or bicycle rider who is found driving or riding beyond the speed limit shall be imposed a fine of Nu 5000 as per the new bill.
The license held will also be cancelled and he or she will be disqualified from obtaining any license for at least 6 months or as determined by the court, the former rule states.
RSTA has also proposed increase in insurance compensation in the event of road crash of motor vehicle resulting in the death of a person.”The nearest relative of the victim shall receive compensation of Nu 100,000 and in case of death of a minor below the age of 5 years, compensation amounting to Nu 50,000 shall be paid according to the new bill.
Any person injured as a result of road crash, which does not result in partial or total disablement shall receive a compensation of Nu 10,000. A person shall receive an amount of Nu 50,000 for temporary partial disablement and Nu 20,000 for permanent total disablement, the bill states.
“Imposing high fines would provide safer roads and reliable transport system but educating them is more important,” said the Traffic Division Superintendent “We arrange meetings with commercial passenger vehicle drivers to educate them on traffic rules and regulations”.
A traffic division official said driving intoxicated is the highest offence in the past nine years. “This could be because cheap alcohol is available everywhere and the penalty for the offence is low. So if we impose strict rules like imprisonment and high fines, probably people would think twice,” the official said.
“The traffic police, with the help of alcohol testing device, can determine the offence but there are other factors we need to consider like mechanical defects, poor road conditions like potholes and severe weather conditions like snowfall and rainfall,” an RSTA official said.