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The bill to amend the Road Traffic Act is sparking debate and concern as a series of amendments, including an increase in the amount of fines and the expansion of the list of cumulative offenses, are planned. These changes, which will be submitted to a second reading this Tuesday in the National Assembly, introduce the possibility of suspension of the driving license for certain cumulative offenses.

Around forty fines will soon be increased and the list of cumulative offenses has been extended to contain 32 instead of 11. These amendments will take effect once the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, which will be presented for second reading in the National Assembly this Tuesday, June 25, 2024, will have been voted on.

During a press conference in Port-Louis on Friday June 21, the Minister of Transport and Light Rail, Alan Ganoo, announced “the risk of suspension of the driving license for the Cumulative Road Traffic System”. He specified that seven offenses, among the new offenses included on the list, concern motorcycles and mopeds. If some see this revision of the Highway Code as beneficial measures, convinced that they will have a deterrent effect, others, on the other hand, fear chaos.

Alain Jeannot, president of the non-governmental organization Prévention Routière Avant Tout (PRAT), is one of those who welcome these amendments. “Raising fines for Highway Code offenses directly linked to collision prevention is a courageous deterrent measure. This is beneficial because the road safety situation in Mauritius is worrying,” he said.

To support his argument, he relies on the fact that the police served 529,502 tickets from January 2019 to December 2022, despite greatly reduced traffic from May 2020 to June 2022 due to restrictions linked to COVID-19. . “That represents a ticket every four minutes! This clearly indicates that compliance with the Highway Code leaves something to be desired,” he says.

According to him, this lack of discipline could well contribute to the explosive number of accidents, especially since the volume of motorized vehicles increases by 4% each year. It shows that in 2023, the road was the scene of 36,400 accidents. He adds that there has been a 13% increase in the rate of deaths per 100 victims over the last four years compared to the previous four.

“This reveals an increasing violence in collisions. However, the violence of the impact is linked to excessive speed. This fully justifies the emphasis placed on fines linked to non-compliance with speed limits, but also those relating to the wearing of seat belts,” insists Alain Jeannot. He goes further and pleads for increased and avant-garde awareness coupled with these amendments (see box).

Domino effect

Barlen Munusami, road safety expert, is one of those who fears chaos. It focuses on cumulative offenses. According to him, the 21 new offenses included on the list have no reason to exist. He believes this will have a domino effect on the entire system.

“The points license has been replaced by Cumulative Road Traffic Offenses. The original 11 offenses on the list will increase to 32. The number of disqualifications will create chaos among drivers,” he believes. He points out that “tens of thousands of people will lose their driving licenses due to the offenses on the new list.”

Barlen Munusami insists the new offenses on the list have nothing to do with road safety. “It’s just a matter of discipline. It is a system which goes hand in hand with a mechanism allowing the rehabilitation of drivers. The introduction of this measure will definitely have a domino effect. Many drivers will not want to pay the Fixed Penalty. The case will go to court. The judicial system will end up being clogged over time,” he anticipates.

These 21 new offenses included on the list of Cumulative Offenses

  • Do not give way when exiting a lesser road and entering a more important road
  • Do not wear high visibility clothing as a driver of a motor cycle
  • Do not wear high visibility clothing while riding a motorcycle
  • Do not overtake a vehicle on the right
  • Teaching for a fee the driving of a motor vehicle without an instructor's license
  • Obstructing oncoming traffic when overtaking
  • Driving or traveling on a central reservation
  • Stop in a central reservation
  • Allow the vehicle to remain stationary in a central reservation
  • Transporting one or more people in the open pickup area of ​​a dual-cab pickup or dual-purpose vehicle
  • Auto-cycle and motorcycle not equipped with a rear-view mirror in the prescribed manner
  • Driving a motorcycle alongside another two-wheeled vehicle
  • Riding a motorcycle alongside another two-wheeled vehicle
  • Failing to obey traffic signs while driving, by failing to obey the lane selection arrow
  • Carrying more than one person as a passenger in a motor cycle
  • Carrying more than one person as a passenger on a motorcycle
  • License plate not in compliance with requirements
  • Size, display and character spacing of a number plate not conforming to prescribed specifications
  • Violation of lane discipline on a dual carriageway
  • Violation of the conditions imposed by the police commissioner when participating in a race or speed test between motor vehicles on a road
  • Participation in a race or speed test between motor vehicles on a road without the consent of the police commissioner

Focus on forward-thinking awareness

Faced with the number of accidents recorded from year to year, Alain Jeannot calls for increased awareness. “It would be desirable for the review of fines to be supported by increased awareness, well targeted and forward-thinking. It is disappointing to see that the use of the digital platform is under-exploited,” notes the president of PRAT.

He takes the example of the website “respe.mu”, his Facebook page, his YouTube channel and Instagram. It highlights that the website is not updated regularly, even though the development of this tool in 2020 brought hope. “The last campaign that appears there dates from last year. His YouTube channel has only 47 subscribers and his Facebook page 23,000 followers, while Le Défi Media Group has reached a million followers! » he said.

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