Traffic laws tightened




MOTORISTS who even touch their phones while driving will be fined up to BD500 starting Sunday.

Policemen will be out in force next week to impose the new traffic law, which includes stricter punishments for motoring offences – some of which have been quadrupled.

The old law, which dated back 35 years, had fines as low as BD5 or BD10 for speeding, driving under the influence and infant negligence.

However, the new legislation outlines dramatically increased fines and jail times for various offences, including up to BD6,000 fine and jail time for jumping a red light and causing a fatality.

“Even if you are talking on loud speaker with your phone in your hand you will be fined,” said Traffic Directorate public relations head Osama Bahar yesterday.

“Even if you are picking up your phone to check the time you will be fined because there is no need – all cars have clocks, most of them right in front of the driver.”

Mr Bahar was speaking during a forum on the new law at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), which was attended by businessmen and representatives of transportation companies.

He said a proposed demerit point system, which threatens to revoke licences of repeat offenders after they exceed maximum number of points, is still being reviewed in parliament.

“If parliament agrees on it then it will be introduced at the same time as the law on Sunday,” he said.

“If they don’t then people will only have to pay the fines until the system is approved and then it will go into effect immediately.”

He explained that, under the penalty system, multiple offenders who do not pay their fines will be arrested if they pass a police checkpoint.

“If your phone number is registered (with your CPR) then you will be sent a message on the same day that you have committed a violation, saying how much it will cost and the number of [demerit] points lost,” he added.

“If your number is not in the system then a letter will be sent to your home address.

“For repeat violators we have a system in place that can read, detect and flag registration.

“For those people who are repeat offenders who maybe have 15 violations – should they ever cross a police check point they will be arrested.

“The system has been in place and tested for about a month.”

Under the new law, running a red light will result in up to six months in jail or a fine of BD100 to BD500, which will be increased to BD1,000 to BD3,000 fine and/or three months to three years in jail if it results in an injury.

However, if the accident causes a fatality, it will carry a minimum six-month jail sentence and a fine of between BD2,000 and BD6,000.

In the previous law, drunk driving carried a jail sentence of up to a year and/or a fine of BD500, with a maximum of two years in prison and/or a BD1,000 fine if it results in an accident.

However, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will now result in a fine of BD500 to BD1,000 and/or a jail sentence of a month to a year.

If drunk driving causes an accident, it will result in a jail sentence of between two months to two years, and/or a BD1,000 to BD2,000 fine.

If the offence is repeated within a year, the penalty will be doubled.

In the new law, exceeding speed limits could result in up to BD500 in fines or up to six months in jail.

However, if speeding results in an injury to someone or damage to public or private property, it carries a one month sentence to three years and/or a fine of BD1,000, which can increase to BD2,000 in case of a fatality.

Street racing, driving without a licence and driving a car without brakes or with unfit brakes will carry a fine of BD50, which could go up to BD500 and/or a prison term of up to six months.

Allowing children to sit in the front seat or having infants in a car without a child seat will result in fines between BD20 to BD100.

An awareness campaign, running under the slogan ‘rethink’, has been launched to educate the public. For more information, visit laala@gdn

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