Drop in traffic casualties after Sri Lanka announces higher fines

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main state-run hospital Monday reported a dramatic decline in the number of motor traffic casualties since the government announced sharply raising fines on errant motorists.

The National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa said November saw the lowest number of traffic causalities and attributed the drop to the annual budget proposing enhanced fines on errant drivers.

"We are seeing a visible drop in the number of casualties brought to the Emergency Service at the NHSL Colombo," Soysa said.

She said the number of traffic casualties dropped to 1,387 in November, down from a monthly average of 1,600 to 1,700 in the first half of the year.

"We are seeing this declining trend in December too," she added.

A orthopaedic surgeon at the Accident ward said they found a sharp drop in their workload and for the first time in decades there were no patients without beds.

Trauma wards are usually overcrowded and patients sleeping on bed sheets laid on the floor was not unusual, but this month there were hardly any patients without a bed.

On the day bus and taxi operators struck work protesting the proposed new fines, two policemen were run over by a drunk private bus driver at Thelwatte, Hikkaduwa.

A sub inspector and a constable from the Meetiyagoda police station was hit by the bus driver who has since been remanded after he was found to be under the influence of liquor.

Health minister Rajitha Senaratne told parliament Monday that he had advised President Maithripala Sirisena not to relent on the high fines and that the proposal to raise them was already having a salutary effect on the road.

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The minister said about 3,000 people are killed on the spot while hundreds of thousands are wounded and many maimed for life as a result of motor accidents.

The government has proposed raising the minimum fine to 25,000 rupees for seven major offences which contributed to the most number of fatal accidents.

(COLOMBO, Dec 5, 2015)

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