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Discounted fines may have encouraged reckless driving in Dubai

Dubai: Almost 800,000 fines worth over Dh335 million were paid during the traffic fine reduction period which started on September 11, 2011 and ended on January 10.

"Unfortunately, the number of accidents and road fatalities increased during the discount period, which brought the total number of road deaths to 134 in 2011, and we have only one fatality this year so far," Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of the Traffic Department of Dubai Police said.

He said the traffic fine discount will not be renewed or re-launched in Dubai again, as he believed that motorists did not drive safely because they knew they had to pay a reduced fine.

"There were 10 road deaths during the discount period," he added.

"The road death index fell to 3.8 per 100,000 residents in 2011, which presents us with the fresh challenge of reducing road fatalities to a maximum of 120 in 2012 from 134 in 2011, although we had a number of bad accidents in January," Maj Gen Al Zafein said.

Reducing the number of pedestrian deaths is a top priority this year, as 41 pedestrians were killed last year, and in most cases they were at fault.

"When analysing an accident, we look at the first harmful event, which in most cases is the pedestrian crossing the road at an undesignated area or while the pedestrian light is red, or even crossing a highway," Major General Al Zafein said.

In response to complaints from readers who said they failed to pay their fines at a discount due to technical glitches, Major General Al Zafein said there were some complaints, of which the Electronic Services Department of Dubai Police was informed, while motorists who wanted to pay their fines at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) outlets were not allowed to do so unless they had a transaction with RTA, because their priority was serving their clients.

In 2012, the White Points system, which is currently pending approval and is expected to be passed by April, will present a new way of rewarding good drivers.

"Drivers who do not commit any offences for a year will be automatically sent a message informing them of the win, which is in the form of shopping and discount vouchers," Major General Al Zafein said.

However, one offence will set the driver back, and he will have to wait for the beginning of the following year to qualify again.

"Any driver with a driving licence and car registered in his or her name is eligible to earn white points, and those who maintain their white points for five years will be awarded as elite drivers," he added.

Major General Al Zafein invited people who have any questions or complaints to contact him through his Twitter account @mohamedalzafeen.

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