Qatar’s new traffic law – which doubles fines for overtaking on the right and parking in special needs spots unnecessarily – will come into force starting Jan. 1, 2016, the head of the country’s traffic department has reportedly said.
However, the Peninsula quotes Brig. Mohamed Saad Al Kharji, Director-General of the Ministry of Interior’s traffic department, as confirming that police will begin enforcing it from the start of the new year.
Under the updated rules, motorists who have been fined for violating the traffic laws can also get a 50 percent reduction on most offenses if they pay up within 30 days.
However, there is no discount for those who have been caught overtaking on the right, driving overweight trucks or parking in a space designated for those with special needs, Al Kharji reportedly added.
Under the amended law, the fines for these violations have been increased from QR500 to QR1,000, while repeat offenders could face a jail term.
The legislation also brings in a new sliding scale of penalty points for speeding. Motorists who exceed the limit by up to 30kph face one point, while drivers speeding in excess of 40, 50 and 60kph over the limit will incur two, three or four points respectively.
A driver who racks up 14 points will have their license suspended, the Ministry of Interior has previously said.
Also under the provisions of the updated law, drivers whose cars have been impounded by the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department for illegal maneuvers must claim their vehicles within three months, or they will be put up for public auction.
Previously, they had six months to pay off their fines and the costs accrued and reclaim their vehicle, the Peninsula adds.
The amended law also states that vehicles with sale advertisements that are parked in a public area without prior approval could be seized.
Enforcement of this violation will become the sole responsibility of the traffic department, where previously the municipality also played a role.
As Qatar’s roads get increasingly congested, the practice of using the emergency lane to skip traffic queues, driving up right turn lanes then cutting in to junctions at the last minute or using the slow lane to overtake traffic has become more common.
Authorities have already said they will be taking a tough line on offenders of the dangerous practice by increasing traffic patrols on key routes and by installing more radars.
Last summer, the traffic police said that those caught faced having their cars impounded for a month.
Just over a month later, Al Kharji said that up to 100 vehicles a day were being seized as part of the crackdown on illegal overtaking.
Meanwhile, September saw a seven percent increase in the number of people caught speeding or illegally overtaking on the right, according to figures released by the Ministry of Planning Development and Statistics (MDPS).
A total of 115,130 radar violations were recorded for that month – the highest figure published since the ministry began releasing radar statistics in March 2014.