Parliament recently approved new amendments to Traffic Law 66/1972 proposed by the government.
According to a report issued by the parliament’s Transport Committee, the new amendments aim to support the smart transport system which President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi urged officials to adopt in June 2020.
The amendments aim to reduce car accidents, improve road quality, and cut fuel consumption and pollution, the report said. It added that it would help traffic authorities impose automatic control on the movement of vehicles on all kinds of roads.
The newly-amended law includes stricter penalties for traffic violations in addition to adopting a new framework, a point system, to be applied for the first time on Egypt’s streets.
Major General Yehia Al-Kedwani, a member of parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee, told MBC Masr TV that the new law would not be implemented until after the president’s ratification in two to three years and its publishing in the official gazette.
“The streets lack the needed infrastructure that would help in applying the laws,” Al-Kedwani said, pointing out that 14 government ministries “are working to prepare for the actual implementation of the law during this two-to-three-year transitional period”.
Only annual fees on vehicle licensing will be currently imposed to provide a budget to establish the necessary infrastructure to execute the newly-amended law, the MP said.
According to the law, fees will cover all private, public, and diplomatic vehicles and will depend on engine size.
A private car with less than a 1,300 litre capacity will pay an annual fee of LE60 and those with a litre capacity of between 1,300 and 1,600 will pay LE75. In addition, all kinds of buses, motorcycles and tok-toks will also be required to pay fees ranging from LE20 to LE600 while commercial vehicles will pay a fee of LE2,500 annually.
The law covers 75 violations divided into five categories in which fines vary from LE100 to LE8,000. In addition to the fine, points would be deducted from the 50 points drivers are granted annually. A deduction of one point is for violations classified in the first segment and reaches five points in the fifth.
If all 50 points are deducted before the end of the year, the driver’s licence will be suspended for three months, and the driver will undergo a rehabilitation traffic course before taking a driving test.
The bill stipulates that when applying for a driver’s licence the first time, an applicant must pass a training course on safe driving in a driving education centre approved by the Ministry of Interior. The law also obliges the education and higher education ministries to include a traffic awareness subject to be taught.
In the law’s first category of traffic violations, a point is deducted and a fine of between LE100 and LE200 imposed. Among the first segment’s violations are not carrying a driving licence, and the absence of a stop sign, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
When a second category violation is committed, two points are deducted and a fine ranging from LE200 to LE400 is issued. The second segment violations include using a mobile phone while driving, not wearing seat belts, parking in restricted areas, not wearing a helmet, exceeding the speed limit by no more than 10 km/h, and allowing children under seven to ride in the passenger seat or having children under two without a special chair fixed in the back seat.
Unlike the rest of the categories, it is permissible in the first and second segments for a violator to reconcile within seven days by paying half the fine at the Traffic Department or by post.
Fines in the third degree range between LE500 and LE1,000 and can mean jail time for one month. It is up to the judge to decide whether to fine or imprison the violator.
This category’s violations include driving a vehicle with an expired or suspended driver’s or car licence, exceeding the speed limit by no more than 30 km/h, not having, destroying or hiding the electronic sticker, driving a vehicle in a motorcade without a permit, not turning on headlamps and tail lights while driving, not giving priority to emergency, police, traffic, ambulance and fire fighting vehicles, tinting windshields and not following the signals, instructions or orders issued by traffic officers.
The Interior Ministry earlier extended the deadline for installing the new electronic stickers, which can be read by special infrared devices at traffic lights and by traffic officers on the streets, to 31 March.
Meanwhile, violations including using a vehicle for a purpose other than that stated in its licence, exceeding the speed limit by no more than 50 km/h, and failing to comply with safety distances on highways would lead to deducting four points in addition to paying a fine of LE2,000 to LE4,000 or imprisonment for three months.
Violations included in the fifth category can lead to a five-point deduction in addition to a fine of LE4,000 to LE8,000, or imprisonment for six months. These include driving in the opposite direction, driving a vehicle without licence plates or hiding or changing some or all of its plate numbers, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, committing an act contrary to public morals inside the car, using devices that detect or affect the operation of radar or electronic stickers, and assaulting a policeman by word or deed while performing his duty.
“The amendments are good and I think imposing such harsher fines will restore discipline to the streets,” Ahmed Zaki, a 40-year-old engineer, told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Mohamed Hossam, 32, believes that it is not reasonable to be fined LE1,000 or be imprisoned for a month for a violation like tinting windshields. “It is illegal, I know, but the fine is exaggerated,” Hossam said, adding that some fines need to be reconsidered.
Yasmine Ali, 30, points out that the general public is unaware of the law and that the violations and fines are still vague to the majority of citizens. “We need more clarification and more time to get used to such amendments,” she said.
In June 2020, Al-Sisi ordered the implementation of a smart system for roads nationwide as part of a government plan aimed at improving road safety in the country.
The president at the time urged officials to adopt modern technology to monitor roads, including the use of cameras to curb violations, ensure smooth traffic and improve road safety.
He said a new system for recording driving violations will be adopted, whereby messages will be instantly sent to drivers on their mobile phones to notify them about their violations.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 February, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly