Road­sters told to buckle up or face fines

The Myanmar Times - - News - Ayenyein­win@mm­times.com AYE NYEIN WIN

DRIV­ERS be warned: Police will start en­forc­ing a K30,000 (US$23) fine for not wear­ing a seat­belt start­ing on Jan­uary 1.

Yan­gon traf­fic police and AYA Myan­mar In­sur­ance launched an aware­ness cam­paign ear­lier this month in order to pro­mote seat­belt us­age, a long-ne­glected road safety mea­sure.

“According to in­ter­na­tional sur­veys, wear­ing a seat­belt while driv­ing can re­duce in­juries by up to 45 per­cent in cases where ac­ci­dents oc­cur,” said Colonel Kyaw Myo Myint from No 9 north­ern traf­fic police force.

He added that seat­belts are al­ready legally man­dated un­der the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Law, which passed in Septem­ber 2015. Un­der the law, both driv­ers and pas­sen­gers are re­quired to wear a seat­belt or could be held li­able with a fine.

To end per­va­sive flout­ing of the seat­belt re­quire­ment, on Novem­ber 1 traf­fic police kicked off a warn­ing pe­riod – check­ing which driv­ers are us­ing seat­belts and which are not, and in­form­ing them of the obli­ga­tion to do so.

On Novem­ber 11, police started check­ing high­way ex­press buses as well.

About 520,000 of the coun­try’s 840,000 ve­hi­cles are based in Yan­gon Re­gion. Many driv­ers do not use seat­belts, according to re­cent of­fi­cial es­ti­mates. Nearly 3500 peo­ple were killed in au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dents be­tween the start of this year and Septem­ber 30, according to a re­port from the Myan­mar Police Force.

“Ex­perts pre­dict that the num­bers of ve­hi­cles will in­crease in 2017 and we need more road safety mea­sures,” said Ko Soe Hein, gen­eral man­ager at AYA Myan­mar In­sur­ance. “We will con­tinue the cam­paign in some town­ships of Yan­gon. Some driv­ers may think that cam­paigns are noth­ing but the aim is to make things safe for all.”

Many of the ve­hi­cles im­ported to Myan­mar lack seat­belts. But start­ing on Jan­uary 1, the Road Trans­port Ad­min­is­tra­tion Depart­ment will not per­mit the regis­tra­tion or re-regis­tra­tion of ve­hi­cles that do not have seat­belts, said Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter U Thant Sin Maung.

Myan­mar’s roads are among the most dan­ger­ous in South­east Asia. Road traf­fic deaths rose from 4313 in 2014 to 4420 last year. According to the Myan­mar Police Force in Nay Pyi Taw, so far this year there has been an av­er­age of 43.85 ac­ci­dents and 12.75 road deaths per day. The Na­tional Road Safety Coun­cil hopes to halve the death rate by 2020.

‘Wear­ing a seat­belt ... can re­duce in­juries by up to 45 per­cent in cases where ac­ci­dents oc­cur.’

Colonel Kyaw Myint

No 9 north­ern traf­fic police

“We favour fo­cus­ing on that [seat­belts] fac­tor as it is al­ready in­cluded in the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles Law,” Col Kyaw Myo Myint said. “As spec­i­fied in the law, ev­ery driver must use a seat­belt and obey the traf­fic laws, or face police ac­tion.”

Tak­ing fur­ther steps along the epi­cen­tre of lethal road ac­ci­dents in Myan­mar, the Yan­gon-Man­dalay high­way, the govern­ment plans to in­stall rest sta­tions. The stops will be spaced out ev­ery 50 miles (80 kilo­me­tres).

“The govern­ment built this high­way so that driv­ers can reach their desti­na­tion in a short time,” Col Kyaw Myo Myint said. “But the driv­ers get sleepy and there are no sur­round­ing places to stop and get rest.”

Photo: Staff

The police say there has been an av­er­age of nearly 44 ac­ci­dents per day on the na­tion’s roads this year.

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