Stiffer fines finalized

New traffic rules raising fines by up to 400 percent are expected to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting this week after a series of revisions held back the final preparation of the draft bill, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The government has said that it will introduce tougher road restrictions in a bid to help reduce the country’s high number of road fatalities. In 2005, 1,614 people were killed on Greek roads, considered to be among the most dangerous in the European Union. According to the new rules that have now been finalized, drivers caught running a red light will be fined 700 euros, versus the current 167-euro penalty. Those not wearing a seat belt will be hit with a 350-euro penalty – the current fine stands at 83 euros. The Transport Ministry has said that it is targeting driving offenses considered to be more dangerous, while the penalty hike for other offenses, such as illegal parking, will not be as steep. Sources said that the government has moved slowly on the issue as the Transport Ministry’s initial plan needed to be approved by six other ministries. The bill is due to be submitted to Parliament soon and more adjustments could arise when the draft law is debated by MPs. Transport Minister Michalis Liapis has said that he is open to discussion on the final amounts concerning the stiff fines. The new traffic penalties have been described by some critics as being an ineffective measure that will only help to boost state revenues. Meanwhile, transport experts said that the only way to reduce Greece’s high road death toll is by stricter policing of the roads. «Imposing higher fines does not assure the conformance of drivers to the road rules. Systematic policing, on the other hand, is the only way to secure the implementation of the stricter measures,» transport expert Panos Papadakos told Kathimerini. Sources said that the ministry will inform drivers of the new rules via a pamphlet that will be sent to households either with electricity or water bills. After the bill is passed by lawmakers, the implementation of the new law is expected to be delayed by four months in order to give the public time to become aware of the new measures.

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