Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Cracking down on bad driving

In a bid to reduce Egypt’s high rate of road accidents, the government amended the traffic law, reports Mai Samih

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Car accidents have long been one of the leading causes of death in Egypt. In recent years there has been an increase in major accidents with multiple casualties. Drivers do not follow traffic regulations, the laws suffer from various limitations, and there have been problems enforcing the laws.

 According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), in 2011 the number of car accidents in Egypt was 16,830, compared to the 24,371 in 2010 — a decrease of 31 per cent.

But the number of those injured in accidents actually increased by 24 per cent: 27,479 in 2011, compared to 26,028 in 2010. There were 7,115 deaths in road accidents in 2011 and 7,040 in 2010. The death rate per day was 19.5 and the injury rate was 75.

The highest accident rate was in the Sharqiya governorate, which saw 1,289 accidents. Sixty-seven per cent of the accidents were due to driver error and the rest  were due to the state of the highways. Private cars were involved in 1,115 of the accidents.

 In 2013, the number of car accidents in Egypt was 15,578, compared to 15,516 in 2012. Fifty per cent of the victims were young people aged between 15 and 29. Most of the accidents were on highways and most occurred in December, which saw 1,144 accidents.

Sharqiya also recorded the highest number of accidents, 1,144, in 2013. The death rate per day was 18 and the injury rate 61, while these figures were 18 and 59, respectively, in 2012. The two main reasons behind the accidents were driver error (65 per cent) and the condition of the cars involved (18 per cent).

 To put an end to the chaos in the streets and to decrease the number of accidents, the government amended the traffic law in November 2014. According to Article 74 of the new regulations, any person driving a car and breaking certain provisions will be liable to a fine not less than LE50 and not more than LE200.

These provisions include using headlights inappropriately, parking in dark streets without lights, allowing people to sit on the car while it is being driven, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving overloaded vans and using car horns unnecessarily.

Any person driving a car and breaking other provisions will be liable to a fine of not less than LE50 and not more than LE100. These provisions include driving a car below the speed limit and causing traffic congestion, using a car for a purpose other than what it is registered for, not wearing a seat belt in the front seat or a helmet in the case of motorcycles, using mobiles while driving, not having a number plate properly affixed, and not having a fire extinguisher within the reach of the driver.

According to Article 75 of the new traffic law, any person breaking the following provisions may be punished with a prison sentence of three months maximum and a fine that is not less than LE100 and not more than LE500: exceeding the speed limit, driving a car without a licence or with an expired one or one that has been withdrawn, driving a car with non-functioning or damaged brakes, forging official documents, purposely causing traffic jams; and changing the information on licence plates.

Any person carrying speed radar detectors or devices intended to affect the functioning of radar units may be liable for a prison sentence of three months maximum and a fine of at least LE500 that could reach LE1,000 or more.

Article 76 of the amended traffic law states that anyone caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be punished with imprisonment of not less than three months and not more than six months and fined between LE500 and LE1,000. The punishment will be doubled if the offence is repeated within a year of the first sentence.

The latter punishment was increased by a decree issued by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi stating that anyone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or driving in the wrong direction causing the injury of one person or more will be punished by a year to two years’ imprisonment and a fine not less than LE10,000.

The sentence can be increased to three to seven years if a driver causes the death of one or more people while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or causes them injuries leading to paralysis.

Article 78 of the new law gives judges the right to confiscate the licence of a driver sentenced for breaking Articles 74 to 77 of the new traffic law until that driver finishes his punishment period. Article 80 allows a driver what is called  “instigative procedures” as a result of breaking Article 74, these being cancelled on payment of a LE25 fine. That is a driver pays LE 25 in reconciliation with the traffic department.

Under the new regulations, cars will also be examined for technical problems at traffic departments in order to avoid future problems. “We examine cars to make sure there are no signs of welding and in general that there are no problems with the engine,” said engineer Ali Hussein of the Al-Attaba Traffic Department in Cairo.

 “We also check that the petrol is okay and that the lamps are in good condition as this could put the lives of people on the road in danger. If a child is found sitting in the front seat of the car we fine the driver immediately. We also check that the engine, and especially the silencer  is in good condition in order to reduce the amount of exhaust.”

One mini-bus driver in Cairo told Al-Ahram Weekly says that the amendments are acceptable, but that some punishments are not severe enough. “I believe that if a driver is caught drinking and driving he should be punished far more severely if he causes an accident that leads to the death of people,” he said.

“But there are some other articles in the new law that treat drivers like criminals. Wearing seatbelts is not practical in Cairo, but it should be obligatory on motorways.”

 In a study carried out by CAPMAS, the number of cars in Egypt was found to have increased from 117,000 in 1961 to 5.85 million in 2010. In 2011 the number was 6.37 million, with 2.76 million in towns (43 per cent), 1.87 million in Lower Egypt rural areas (29 per cent), 1.55 million in rural areas in Upper Egypt (24.3 per cent) and 188,000 in the border provinces (3 per cent). There were 2.5 million cars in Cairo (32.2 per cent), 700,000 cars in Giza (11 per cent), and 540,000 in Alexandria (8.5 per cent).

 In 2012, the number of licenced cars was 6.6 million. 41 per cent of them were in urban areas, while 30.3 per cent were in the Lower Egypt governorates, 26.1 per cent in the Upper Egypt governorates, and 2.4 per cent in the border provinces.

In 2013, the number of licenced cars was 6.86 million, including 2.3 million in Cairo (29.6 per cent). In 2014, the number of licenced cars was 7.51 million, including 3.2 million cars (40.2 per cent) in urban areas like Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez, and 2.3 million in rural areas like Upper Egypt (27.1 per cent).

According to Mohamed Ayman, deputy governor of the Southern Cairo District, more effective control of the traffic is already underway in Cairo. “We have already installed special traffic lights that work with a timer to detect cars breaking the traffic laws. Contraventions are automatically recorded and fines issued in Mustafa Al-Nahhas Street,” he said.

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