Motorists welcome new SMS traffic offence system

Road safety experts and motorists have welcomed a new text messaging system allowing drivers to instantly know when and where they have committed a traffic offence.
The Government has made significant investments in road infrastructure and intelligent transport systems. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
The Government has made significant investments in road infrastructure and intelligent transport systems. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Road safety experts and motorists have welcomed a new text messaging system allowing drivers to instantly know when and where they have committed a traffic offence.

The messages will detail the time and date of an offence, plus the location of the camera that caught the violation. Other information include the cost of the fine and the total amount owed by a driver.

Abu Dhabi drivers will no longer have to regularly check online for details on traffic violations.

“A motorist has the right to know all the details of a violation,” said Michael Dreznes, executive vice president at the International Road Federation. “Having this information should reduce potential bottlenecks as motorists request more details from the police before they pay any traffic fines.”

It also should encourage the motorist to discover who was driving the vehicle when the ticket was issued, and this should result in the violations being paid quicker, he said.

Vehicle owners will now be able to keep a record of their traffic fines, particularly if someone else was using their vehicle, Brig Ali Khalfan Al Dhaheri, director general of central operations at Abu Dhabi Police, said last week.

“Anything that describes exactly what violation has occurred and how the data was gathered and the location of the camera provides transparency to the public,” said Glenn Havinoviski, a US-based transport expert. “It becomes more difficult to argue about the validity of the ticket.”

For leased cars, the car rental company typically pays the fines since speeding and parking fees are tied to the number plate. The company charges a service fee on top for the customers.

“As someone who leased cars during the two years I lived in the UAE, would have appreciated more immediate information about violations, instead of hearing months later,” said Mr Havinoviski of US traffic management company Iteris.

“The sooner the better and I want to know the details so I don’t do it again and get another fine.”

Experts also praised the move as a positive step to enhancing driver behaviour.

“The change towards providing more detail on the nature of the traffic fine and the associated fine are a significant step towards improving drivers’ behaviour, and we welcome the new practice,” said Dr Britta Lang, country director of Transport Research Laboratory UAE.

“Basic psychology shows that people are more likely to change behaviour if negative consequences of this behaviour is immediate. The greater details on the offence committed and the fines associated with the offence sends a message to the driver, that unsafe driving behaviour will be detected and comes at a cost.”

Dino Kalivas, chairman of driver education and training at the IRF, agreed.

“Evidence from human behaviour experts indicates that the sooner a driver is notified that they have committed a driving offence, the more likely they are to understand the importance and immediacy of respecting road rules, and lead to potential fewer traffic violations,” he said. “The more details the driver receives in relation to a traffic violation, the greater the impact is psychologically, with drivers appreciating that the likelihood of being detected is a greater deterrent.”

Motorists also welcomed the new system.

“It’s a good initiative,” said Sulaiman Al Ameri, 42. “Drivers normally do not keep track of their fines and are often surprised to learn they’ve racked up thousands of dirhams in traffic fines when they renew their car registration.

The system would help motorists clear their fines without waiting for their annual vehicle registration renewal, said the Emirati father-of-six.

Abu Dhabi Police have yet to announce when the new system will take effect.

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: September 30, 2016 04:00 AM

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