Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has approved a draft bill, upgrading penalties for violation of traffic rules. Some of the fines may be increased twice. The government believes it will help to reduce the accident rate.

Thus, for driving a vehicle with malfunctioning brake system and/or steering gear the fine will grow from UAH 340-510 to UAH 510-680; for driving with unfastened seatbelts or without crash helmet the fine will grow from UAH 51-85 to UAH 170-340. For violations of intersection crossing rules, for crossing on a red traffic light, for talking on the phone without hand-free device the fine will grow from UAH 425-510 to UAH 510-595. In case of ignoring legal requirements of the traffic police the fine will make UAH 680-1020 (currently UAH 255-340), and for state officials the fine is even higher - UAH 1190-1700. In such a way, the authorities take measures to stop lawlessness on the road.

Increased fines are also provided for excessive tinting coating of car glasses or modification of a car with violation of technical standards.

ForUm has asked experts and deputies whether the draft bill can finally make a difference.

Vasyl Popik, chairman on the Professional Union of taxi drivers of Ukraine:

- I think that upgrading of penalties won't change anything until we have the caste of the untouchable. Unless those people stop ignoring the rules and avoiding responsibility, no penalties will make a difference, even execution.  It means that the innovations will not be applied to everyone without exception, and the adoption of the law will not improve the situation on the roads.

Bohdan Aganin, head of the traffic police department on offensive activity:

- A popular soviet movie character Zhyglov once said that the crime rate in a country is defined not by the number of thieves, but by the ability of authorities to neutralize them. Traffic safety depends not on the size of fines, but on work of the traffic police. Considering the corruption in law enforcement bodies, traffic police officers will just charge bigger bribes. We should treat the disease, not to prescribe more medicines.

Vasyl Zaichenko, lawyer, former head of the traffic safety department of the Traffic Police:

- The matter is that the stipulated violations are very specific. For example, to prove that a driver did not fasten the seatbelt, a photo proof is needed. A traffic police officer may stop a vehicle because of unfastened seatbelt, but the driver may fasten it in front of the officer and say he did not violate anything, and there will be no way to prove otherwise.

As for solar tinted glass, there must be certified devices and a standard act, stipulating the control procedure and tinting standards. It may happen that a car has been tinted at the service stations and a relevant certificate is issued, then a police officer stops the car, control the certificate, but finds violation of standards.  Who is wrong in this situation? Where to appeal for loss compensation?  
What we need is better surveillance and fixation system, as well as proper driving culture. I have serious doubts that the given draft bill will improve traffic safety.

Oleksandr Zubenko, head of the routine maintenance department of the Traffic Police:

- Upgrading of penalties is the position of all countries, caring about traffic safety. Bigger fine is a constraining factor for a driver. First of all, he must be focused on the observance of the traffic rules, not on further penalty payment. Our goal is to reduce the road accident rate and to protect citizens from injuries and death on the road.

Ihor Myroshnycheno, MP, "Freedom" party:

- In general, the idea is good, but the approach must be complex. Offenders often escape responsibility and fines because traffic police officers treat different people differently. If an MP or other state official violates the rules, traffic police will only salute him and wish him bon voyage. Abroad, though, everybody pays fines, including high state officials. I support the upgrading of penalties, but this one step will not change the situation. We need to change the approach.   


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