Driving under pressure

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Amendments to the Traffic Code were approved by Parliament on July 8, 2015, and they took effect on September 1, 2015. A number of regulations in the new version of the law were designed to decrease traffic accidents and to persuade drivers to own up to their responsibilities behind the wheel.

According to reports from the Traffic Police Department (TPD), there were 541 traffic-related deaths in 2012, 597 in 2013, 654 in 2014, and 556 in 2015. Another sad fact is that a lot of children are victims of traffic accidents. Over 1,000 children are injured and around 100 children die in traffic collisions every year, with 45 children killed in 2016 as of September. New regulations have not helped save lives so far.

The fine for the offense of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol went from 384,000 MNT to 768,000 MNT, and includes the suspension of driving privileges for six months to two years. Unfortunately, cases of drunk driving have not been reduced since the new law took effect.

Drivers now have ten points that are at risk of reduction in the event of a traffic violation being committed. If a driver loses his or her ten points, that person’s driver’s license will be revoked and the driver will be required to successfully complete a course on traffic regulations and pass an exam to recover their ten points.

People claim that some officials at the TPD engage in corruption to revalidate revoked driver’s licenses, and it is commonly known that some Traffic Police officers issue new licenses without requiring a passed exam with the payment of a bribe. People feel that tow trucks and booted tires are a nightmare, because most people have faced this problem.

They say that tow truck drivers are earning a profit by stealing cars. The new Traffic Code has been criticized by the public, with claims that the state is using it as an excuse to steal from poor citizens, and many feel that they shouldn’t have to follow the new traffic rules.

Taxi driver B.Baasandorj said that some regulations in the new Traffic Code are almost impossible to apply to Mongolian traffic but that the drunk driving penalties are very good, because drivers are responsible for the safety of their passengers and other people on the road, especially for the safety of children.

Driver B.Dungarmaa said, “I skimmed information about the new law on the internet. There should be tougher traffic regulations for Mongolians, because we don’t follow traffic laws while driving. Mongolians drive like they are riding horses on the steppe, and some people are so rude and drive like they are alone in traffic. These impatient drivers cause traffic jams and accidents in Ulaanbaatar. That is why we need the toughest regulations.”

T.Enkhbaatar, a driver for the head of a state organization, said that a country like Mongolia with a small population needs to have strong traffic laws and regulations to increase driver accountability, especially on highways.

Driver Ch.Ugaanbayar said, “Traffic Police always overcharge drivers for towing and other regulations, but they have to be clear with the public about where our fines go. They have an obligation to report to the public about fine spending. All reports must be published on a website for transparent budget reporting, with open access to anyone who has been charged, to review public budget spending. I think that penalty payments should be used for traffic development services.”

Captain Ya.Soronzonbold of the Traffic Police Department stated that all Traffic Police officers use small handheld devices which are able to read all driver’s licenses. He noted that the devices can tell the officers if a driver’s license is valid, if a vehicle has passed safety and vehicle emissions inspections, and how many times a driver has committed traffic
offenses.

The Captain said, “The handheld equipment has many advantages that allow Traffic Police officers to carry out their duties quickly and easily. Traffic Police officers don’t need too much time to type their notes into the computer system, and they do not need to issue on-the-spot fines and support suspicions that Traffic Police officers are making money.”

Captain Ya.Soronzonbold pointed out that paid fines go to the state, to generate revenue for the state budget, and that the Traffic Police Department has no right to spend those funds.

That operations of law enforcement agencies being free of corruption and focused on enforcement, traffic violation fines being clear and provided with the required support, and drivers following traffic regulations are all of significant importance to improving Mongolia’s traffic environment.

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