The Royal Oman Police (ROP) on Monday unveiled a revamped Traffic Law that, among other things, prescribes penalties on a wider range of violations, imposes harsher fines and punishments on existing offences, and enforces a ‘black points’ system to combat reckless driving. In notable highlights of the new law, which comes into force from March 1, 2018, seatbelts are made mandatory for all passengers, while taxi driving will be opened up to Omani women for the first time. Expatriate driving licence holders will be required to renew their licences every two years (upon expiry of their current licences), while newly licensed drivers will be on ‘probation’ for a year before they become entitled to a permanent licence provided they do not garner any negative points during this period.
The sweeping changes were announced by Brigadier Engineer Mohammed al Rawas, Director-General of Traffic, at a press briefing here. He began the briefing by announcing that traffic accidents are down by 67 per cent since 2012-end, while fatalities have dropped by a heartening 52 per cent during this period. The newly overhauled Traffic Law is aimed at building on these achievements, enhancing traffic safety and reducing accidents, he said. Of a total of 415 different types of traffic violations categorised under the new law, 29 have been amended in terms of their phrasing or the prescribes fines, said Brigadier Al Rawas.
Fines for 13 types of violations have been increased, four of them from RO 10 to RO 15, while the increase for the rest varies depending on the magnitude or enormity of the offence. A total of 52 new violations have been added to the provisions of the new traffic law, some of which were earlier bunched together with other offences. In a new development, expatriates will now have to renew their driving licence every two years.
Those who already have a 10-year licence will not be affected until they have to renew them.
Significantly, Omani women will be allowed to get permits to operate as taxi drivers for the first time – a measure that meets the aspirations of women eager to venture into cabbie-riding for a livelihood.
Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers, not just the front-seat passenger and driver.
Furthermore, child seats have been made mandatory when transporting children under the age of four years.
Violators will be fined RO 10 when the new amendments come into force.
An RO 50 penalty now awaits those unauthorisedly parked in slots meant for the disabled, motorists using veils to mask their faces, trucks overtaking wrongly and recklessly, and motorists increasing the torque of their engines.
The licensing process for freshers has been overhauled.
Those who pass the driving test will be eligible for a temporary licence valid for one year.
A permanent licence will be issued only after the lapse of a year, provided they do not run up more than six points against their record. Those who fail to make the cut will get their temporary licence renewed by another 12 months.
After the second year, drivers who run afoul of the traffic regulations will have to undergo the driving tests again.
Fines for speeding have been sharply ramped up.
If the excess speed is more than 75 km, the corresponding fine is RO 50 with a further three black points added to his record.
If the excess speed is between 50 km and 75 km, the penalty is RO 35 fine with two black points.
Where the excess speed is less than 35 km, the fine is RO 10 with no black points.
Motorists earning in excess of 12 black points in one year will have their driving licences suspended for three months.
Negative points are calculated against one calendar year, giving motorists an opportunity to start afresh in the following year.
In other measures, taxis and driver training cars are barred from having installed tinted windows.
Mai al Abria