ECONOMYNEXT – The number of applicants for driving licences and motor insurance has more than doubled since the government announced sharp increases in traffic fines, Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told parliament Monday.
There was an unexpected rush for obtaining driving licences as well as regularising registration documents of vehicles underscoring the large number of people who operated vehicles without valid documents.
The minister said the government will allow a one-month amnesty period before implementing the enhanced fines which will come into effect from January 1, 2017.
"Soon after announcing new fines, we have noticed a very big rush at the RMV (registrar of Motor Vehicles) and at insurance companies," the minister said.
The fine for driving without a licence has been raised 10 fold from 2,500 rupees to 25,000 rupees. Not having an insurance cover will also attract a fine of 25,000 rupees from January.
The minister said the high fines were aimed at instilling a sense of discipline among drivers and was not a revenue measure for the government.
He said six people were killed on Sri Lankan roads every day. Hundreds of thousands are wounded and admitted to state hospitals at a huge cost to tax payers to treat them.
"We cannot put a price on a human life. That is why we are increasing the fines to ensure that drivers will be more careful on the road," the minister said adding that 80 per cent of the accidents were caused due to driver negligence.
President Maithripala Sirisena has made it clear that the government will not waver on the fines despite demands by private bus operators to reduce the fines.
A motorcycle riders association has asked for a discount on the fines for their members, a demand flatly rejected by the authorities.
(COLOMBO, Nov 28, 2016)