Thursday, December 06, 2007

The temporary traffic law

In the final days before leaving office, Marouf Bakhit’s cabinet issued a temporary traffic law. Ostensibly, it is meant to toughen punishments on traffic violations. However, it might be yet another gambit to collect more money, as Hilmi Asmar (Addustour) concludes.

According to the constitution, temporary laws can be issued only under dire situations when parliament is not in session. There has been no massive increase in traffic violations, accidents or fatalities. There was nothing “urgent” that could not have waited until parliament convened. If this issue was so urgent, why wasn’t it presented to the previous parliament?

The media initially concentrated on the tougher punishments, largely in the form of (much) higher fines. It turns out that there is more to it. Whole classes of vehicles that used to register as private vehicles now have to register as commercial vehicles, requiring (of course) much higher registration fees. Gas distributors are threatening to raise prices, and manufacturing companies are implicitly threatening to let go of workers who need to be transported from distant areas. It is not obvious why the new registration rules will lower traffic accidents.

Traffic violations are a significant problem in Jordan, and there is nothing wrong with punishing reckless drivers. However, not all fatalities are from reckless drivers. Often, pedestrians are reckless, and drivers run into them because they shoot into traffic from behind blind spots or in areas where it is impossible to slow down. In these areas, pedestrian bridges are often built to solve the problem. Pedestrians insist on ignoring them, endangering themselves and other people using the road. In case they have an accident, the law always places blame on the driver, no matter what the circumstance.

Therefore, if the true intention was to lower deaths on the road, it would have been useful to reevaluate the law whereby a driver is held to blame even if somebody jumps off of a building onto his parked car. Of course, how can the government milk people that way?

Adnan Badran tried a similar gimmick of passing four laws unconstitutionally before leaving office. At the time, the parliament swiftly rejected these laws out of hand. Let’s hope the new parliament has the same inclinations.


At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is always something missing in our system. If we managed to solve something, we have a new thing to deal with because of it.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

In an article in Alrai' this morning by Ahmad Hasan Zoubi,
it sheds some light on an ever increasing and terrifying delimma we are facing in Jordan, the number of deaths and injuries is horrific, and we probably didn't loose than many people in the 1967 war, so its almost a war out there, so what is the solution?
Most police cars set on the side of the road as check points when most of the deadly violations are moving violations, having an extra passenger in a bus is not deadly but switching from lane to another is, policemen have the mentality of a collector ( JABI ) where all he is looking for is your seat belt and if your license is valid, or what ever he can come up with to give you a ticket, although this is important but it does not kill people, they need to get off their asses and move on the roads and monitor people while driving, most people when approach a police car they put on their seat belts, put away their phones and they are on their best behavior.
If you drive on the road that takes you to Amman university its like a racing track, what do you do about kids driving 160 on an 80 speed limit road?.

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

As I said, there is nothing wrong with punishing reckless drivers. The old law didn't prevent that. There are other problems such as enforcement (as you said), poor education on how to treat the road by pedestrians, bad and poorly designed roads and a culture that is too forgiving of all of this. If there is a real, honest, sincere, willingness to deal with these probelms, it does not show. This new law is simply to collect more money.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

What I noticed in my last three weeks here is that police seem like they don't care "garfaneen"..Many times I saw serious violations being committed infront of the police but they were too lazy to move!

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comment is not related to the above, but i did know where to post the following suggestion. There is a story in today's press on a crisis betwee the Soog al-Sukkar merchants and the municipality. I would like to see a discussion of this issue on your blog. Thanks.

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About Parliament rejecting temporary amendments, please specify to readers that the UPPER HOUSE (a3yan) of parliament has to also reject the law for it to be shot down. Otherwise if it is just the lower house (nuwwab), the temporary law remains in effect.

The previous rejection in 2005 of Badran's last minute laws, were they also rejected by the upper house?

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great article! Traffic rules should be enforced strictly.

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