Now Lebanon: Traffic Update by Sara Lynch

Dec 21 2010

A Lebanese policeman monitors a radar screen during a traffic speed control patrol. (AFP/Ramzi Haidar)
When a black Mercedes Benz zips down one of Beirut’s many narrow and winding roads, it’s easy to wonder whether or not the Internal Security Forces’ (ISF) radar system is having any impact.
Six weeks ago, new radar equipment was deployed in an attempt to slow speedsters by ticketing them at 50,000 LL ($33.33) a pop. While statistics indicate that radars are a step in the right direction, any dramatic decrease in the number of traffic accidents will take time to show.
“We won’t see a big change for about six months,” said Mirna Mneimneh, public relations manager for Kundhadi, an association for road safety awareness. “It takes time for people to believe that they will start getting ticketed for speed violations.”
The ISF installed radars in early November. They replace the need for police checkpoints by taking pictures of speeding vehicles, and in turn, would allow the authorities to send speeding tickets to the violators’ homes. The police placed the cameras on various roads, which they intend to keep unknown.
Kunhadi found that speeding cameras could potentially decrease road accidents by 35 percent a year. The seven-month study conducted in collaboration with the Red Cross-Byblos branch also found that speeding is the number one cause of car crashes and accounts for 75 percent of road accidents every year.
What remains quite evident is that time is needed to see not only how effective the radars are, but also to evaluate the authorities’ response against violators. “Until people start to feel like they need to pay, the decrease in accidents will not be large,” Mneimneh stressed.

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