Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sale extended to traffic fines

It's Sale Time in the UAE, which seems to have been extended to the Abu Dhabi Traffic Police shop.

Not a 'part sale' either. Or an 'up to' sale.

It's an across the board 50% discount on all traffic fines.

It's an unlimited time offer too.

Hang on though. As usual, I'm totally confused, I don't understand any of it.

I'll show you why with a few bits from the Gulf News stories:

The reprieve comes after the amended traffic law, which stipulates hefty fines for traffic offences, left many motorists heavily indebted to the government, a senior traffic official disclosed.

Ummmm...motorists ignored the laws ( we see them all the time don't we) and were punished with fines. 'Many' of them are obviously serial law breakers because they racked up enough fines to be 'heavily indebted to the government'.

So the way to deal with that is to...cut the fines in half.


Engineer Ahmad Hussain Al Harthy, Director of the traffic department said:
"Certain types of serious traffic offences will be exempted from the discounts too".

The discount on fines is applicable to all traffic fines issued in Abu Dhabi, regardless of where the vehicle is registered.

Ummm...some offences will be exempted from the discounts but the discount is applicable to all fines.


The discount is applicable to offences accumulated over years as well as fresh ones. don't need to pay any fines you accumulate 'over the years' because no-one follows up to collect payment. You pay when you re-register your vehicle, so the obvious thing to do is to drive an unregistered vehicle.

You save even more money because that means the vehicle doesn't need a safety check. No need to insure it either.


"The total number of traffic violations recorded and the fines accumulated by some individuals are simply unbelievable".

Ummm...the Traffic Police find it unbelievable.


We have some nice comments from offenders too.

"This is a great move. In the current economic situation, the government's decision is a very humanitarian one," said Naseem Faydulla, an engineer.

"I had Dh5,000 in fines collected over few years and did not know what to do. I just kept putting off the renewal of my car but now it's done." didn't know what to do. Here's a radical thought - you could have paid the fines as you got them. Or better still, you could have paid the first fine, learnt a lesson from it and not re-offended.

You could have obeyed the law and re-registered your car, maybe you could also have given some thought to having it safety checked and insuring it too.

(Thought: Where do I get these outlandish ideas from?).

Yajuan Chen, who works for a furniture shop said that their company car had Dh7,250 worth fines slapped over two years. "No one wanted to take the responsibility so the renewal was delayed," she said, after paying half the amount and clearing off the fines.

We simply didn't bother to register the company car. And we got away with it.


There was a report not so long ago about the fines situation from the Dubai Police too.

Dubai police revealed in April that they have Dh100 million in penalties to be recovered from drivers. The highest amount owed to Dubai police is from a company that had Dh305,200 worth of fines. The highest amount owed by an individual is Dh186,900, owed by an Arab expatriate woman who no longer lives in the UAE.

I suppose it's too much to suggest that the entire system needs a serious rethink. And that includes the whole way the roads and traffic are policed.

We have 'unbelievable numbers' of serial traffic law breakers simply ignoring the fines they deservedly get, then driving their vehicles unregistered, which means no vehicle safety checks and no insurance.

Not to worry though, Abu Dhabi Traffic Police are on the case now, bringing down the heavy hand of the law:

...several traffic policemen were deployed to advise drivers to abide by traffic laws and not to repeat offences. Water and juice was distributed as a gesture of goodwill...


I've quoted from Gulf News reports, here and here


samuraisam said...

I think if the police really wanted to they'd improve the driving situation, but I think at the moment they're stopping at the first hint of social issues.

I've said it before and I've said it again, they just need to remove people with tinted windows from the roads and begin impounding people's cars for 1-7 days and fining people up the ass for even small violations. I don't honestly think speeding is the biggest problem, it is inattentiveness, not caring about other road users and idiots who no matter what level of society still fail to use their indicator or drive like a regular person. There is an overall disrespect for authoritay (like people who openly sit on their phone and yap away and seem to be completely oblivious to any penalties they may incur).

This is a serious step in the absolute wrong direction and people that have all these fines should have been paying attention in the first place. All of the speed cameras flash so there's no excuse for missing those fines, and the police have made it easy enough to check your fines via the internet or SMS (I know I check my fines near enough every day).
To make matters worse they have presented it in a poor manner to begin with, I don't think people would have reacted so harshly if they had titled it as a one-off amnesty and only directed it towards people with small amounts of fines.

Amanda said...

I'd being noticing that driving here had improved a little lately, especially in terms of speeding. I wonder if the cheaper fines will cause more speeding etc. Though it sounds like a lot of people never bothered to paid them anyway!

Stained said...

"Water and juice was distributed as a gesture of goodwill..."

That just cracked me naive can they get...

Daniel said...

A few comments on all of this :

I guess they are thinking, by reducing the fines, people who actually thought of paying but thought it was a bit much might be tempted now.

But seeing the greater picture, this problem is the tip of the iceberg of one of the fundamental flaws of this country, which is that the government doesn't have that much of a grip on what's happening.

If there were a structure of taxation here, all these problems could be solved. Now I'm not a great fan of taxes, and as many here, I came to Dubai because it is tax free. And I'm not a great fan of "big government".

As far as I know, the government here can only collect taxes via bottlenecks that they control.

- The municipality tax is collected via your DEWA bill because everyone pays a DEWA bill, and this is the only "mandatory" payment related to your home.
- Taxes are collected on alcohol because it can only be sold in licensed outlets.
- Taxes are NOT collected on tobacco, rendering the anti-smoking campaigns useless, because tobacco can be sold anywhere, but the government doesn't collect taxes on them, therefore cannot place a tax on tobacco.
- Fines cannot be collected efficiently because there is no time limit on them. The bottleneck here is at registration, but if that itself cannot be enforced properly, fines have no point. In any normal country, when you get caught on a traffic offence, the fine is linked to you, and you have to pay within a short period of time. If you do not, the fine increases, and eventually, you will be summoned to a court. And that is made possible because your registration is linked to your home adress.

To the point, a taxation system is a good way of knowing what is happening in your country and being able to be reliably in contact with people to let them know they owe you money.

Until something like that happens, most efforts to regulate somewhat society will not really work.

Again, I am not a huge fan of taxation and "big government", but a bare minimum never hurts.

Seabee said...

Daniel, IMO it's about basic administration rather than taxation. Even taxes wouldn't be collected if the admin was of the usual standards!

Physical addresses, which you mention, are a key factor in all of this. I guess most people are contactable at their places of work, known to the authorities through the sponsorship system, but there's plenty of evidence that the various departments don't actually talk to each other. Residential addresses would be a much better point of contact, but again it needs administration and communication between departments to be of any use.

The traffic fines/registration is an example of the total lack of administration. Fines are issued against a vehicle registration number, but the owner is not informed and no attempt is made to enforce payment.

To avoid paying, the owner simply doesn't bother to re-register the vehicle. There's no admin to find out why the vehicle hasn't been re-registered, so it's driven for years unregistered, unchecked, uninsured and with the fines unpaid.

There's no admin anywhere relating to the fines issue or the registration, it's simply left to the individual to do the right thing.

Only if the vehicle is sold will it come to the attention of the authorities - so the owner simply dumps it. An average year has about 1500 cars abandoned around the city.

LDU said...

...and we have hoon laws

Mohammad said...

While the standard of driving has improved since the black point system and also since AUH police went undercover, there are also social issues as Sam put it.

Many people with 70% tint will get "offended" if they are punished for their tints and other offences.

A National article actually had it that youth of a particular community were ridiculed by their peers if they wore seatbelts.
Because it showed they dont have "wasta" to get away with not wearing seatbelts.

When the prevalent mindset is one where obeying rules to the letter is seen as a sign of weakness and breaking them is seen as a sign of power and ego, driving issues will remain.

Also, the idea that a person commiting a crime has the gall to act angry and aggressive is something that explains many of the anomalies here.
A young boy jumps ahead of me in a queue and yells at me....
The other day, GN reported how a person approached 2 men catching and breaking necks of pigeons (!), at which the 2 men got "very angry" at the man for challenging them. So there you go....

That said, the driving has definitely improved from 2007, however the tinting is a mystery, i.e. how so many people openly break the rule even though the police often issue heavy fines for that.