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Lebanon's new traffic law stiffens penalties

Lebanon's new traffic law stiffens penalties

Lebanon's new traffic law is designed to reduce the country's high rate of traffic accidents. [Photo courtesy of YASA]

Lebanon's new traffic law is designed to reduce the country's high rate of traffic accidents. [Photo courtesy of YASA]

A new traffic law passed by Lebanon's State Consultative Council came into effect July 22nd, introducing traffic safety procedures used in much of the rest of the world.

The law, first proposed in 2005, was issued in 2012, though its implementation was delayed by a Cabinet decision in February 2013, prompting road safety proponents to appeal.

Road safety lobbying organisation YASA secretary general Kamel Ibrahim spoke with Al-Shorfa about the notable provisions of the new law.

Al-Shorfa: What is the importance of the new law?

Kamel Ibrahim: It brings about a quantum leap in terms of traffic safety and reducing the number of fatal traffic accidents. The aim of YASA and all other organisations we collaborated with to get to this stage, including the Roads for Life association, is to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the roads.

The new law introduces modern concepts such as the points system and the establishment of traffic schools, a national council for traffic safety and a special traffic unit of the Internal Security Forces (ISF). The law puts more focus on the safety of citizens on the roads, children inside the vehicle and the driver himself.

Al-Shorfa: What are its most notable general traffic safety provisions?

Ibrahim: The new law, which defines the specifications of importing used motorcycles and cars, for the first time provides for the adoption of a points system, which encourages respect for the traffic law. It calls for the establishment of a driving record for every driver, starting with 12 points. Points are deducted according to the severity of the violation, culminating with the suspension of the driver's license, at which time the driver will be forced to undergo a new training course to obtain a new driving license.

The law includes progressive penalties and high fines ranging between $100 and $2,000, and even imprisonment. Anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol or exceeds the maximum speed limit will be charged with a crime that could lead to imprisonment, not a misdemeanour as was the case in the past.

Al-Shorfa: The law provides for the establishment of councils. How will they operate?

Ibrahim: The law provides for the establishment of a national traffic safety council headed by the Cabinet and comprising ministers concerned with traffic safety such as the ministers of public works and transport, justice, education, interior and health. The council will develop the public traffic safety standards, plans and policies based on traffic accident figures for the purpose of lowering them.

The law also provides for the establishment of a national traffic safety committee, headed by the Minister of the Interior and comprising all concerned departments, trade unions and associations to propose laws.

The secretariat general of the national traffic safety council is affiliated with the Cabinet and will include specialised staff. It will be responsible for developing policies and evaluating [their implementation].

Al-Shorfa: What about the role of the ISF?

Ibrahim: A new specialised training institute must be established to train ISF personnel on traffic safety standards and the conduct of traffic control. This institute will converge with the driving instruction sector through the creation of specialised schools, seeing as Lebanon's most striking problem is that a large number of drivers do not know how to drive.

Al-Shorfa: Does the law address the rights of pedestrians?

Ibrahim: Some articles addressed the rights of pedestrians after it was found that pedestrians suffer the highest percentage of fatalities resulting from traffic accidents, reaching 43% in 2013. The new law guarantees their rights by providing for overcrossings and sidewalks for them. 

Lebanon , Traffic Safety

Date: 11/13/2014 9:05:18 AM

By: YASA WEB , al-shorfa.com
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Traffic Safety