New traffic laws make roads safer

Muscat: A new traffic law came into effect on March 1, 2018, in the Sultanate against unsafe driving with a host of strict rules designed to make roads safer.

The new law has stressed on the importance of car seats for children and seat belts for all passengers and a new points system, which will see “bad drivers” blacklisted and forced back to driving school.

The new driving licences issued to expatriates will have to be renewed every two years. However, expats who currently have licences valid for 10 years will have to renew it only after the expiry of their licence.

The other changes include introduction of a black points system for new drivers. New drivers in Oman will be issued a temporary driving licence for 12 months under a probation scheme.

According to the ROP, drivers who get more than ten ‘black’ points on their temporary driving licences will have to take more driving lessons. Temporary driving licence will be extended by only one year for a new driver who earns more than seven black points in a year.

However, Omani drivers who earn six or less black points during the probation period will get a ten-year driving licence.

Seat belts have also been made mandatory for all passengers in a vehicle. ROP has said all passengers inside a vehicle will have to wear seat belts, including those in the backseat. Previously, seat belts were compulsory only for passengers in the front seats. Child seats have been made mandatory for kids under four years.

Other changes include hefty penalties for serious traffic offences.

There has been an increase in fines for 52 offences, including penalty for parking in spaces meant for the disabled, which has been increased from RO 10 to RO 50. Trucks that overtake have to pay a fine of RO 50. A fine of RO 50 will be imposed on drivers (including women) who cover their faces.

Other new penalties are: Driving slowly while causing traffic jam (fine up from RO 10 to RO 15; parking in ambulance slots (RO 10 to RO 35); Vehicles parked on the right side of road without any reason (RO 10 to RO 15); parking on sidewalk (RO  10 to RO 15); overpass on shoulder of the road (RO 15 to RO 50); driving with a licence of another category (RO 15 to RO 50); driving with export or import plates after expiry of the prescribed period (RO 10 to RO 35); teaching driving sans a trainer licence (RO 10 to RO 35); installation of reflective panels in heavy vehicles (RO 10 to RO 15) and equipment installation to raise engine power and sound (RO 50).

Women have been allowed to drive taxis and other commercial vehicles, including ‘heavy vehicles’.