The Verkhovna Rada adopted in the first reading a draft law No. 8449 on reduction in road fatalities and injuries. The document provides increased penalties for ignoring safety belts. In particular, it is a question of raising the “fine” for violating the rules of safety belts and motorcycle helmets usage from 51 UAH to 850 UAH. How do people comment on such changes – in reactions from Opinion.

On the page of the campaign “For Secure Roads” they explain: this law raises the fine for ignoring safety-belts to 850 UAH, however, it is designed not to punish. It’s made in order to change the behavior and form a new habit of fastening, moreover at the backseats of the car. However, in order for the initiative to work, MPs still have to pass the bill.

On the eve of the vote, the page of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine noted that according to statistics, in 70% of accidents the human life was saved only because of the safety belts. The department emphasizes: the use of the belts reduces the risk of driver’s death in case of a frontal collision in 2.3 times, in case of a lateral crash in 1.8 times, if it rolls over it reduces in 5 times. At the same time, only 15% of Ukrainian drivers use safety belts, which is the lowest index in Europe. However, now it’s likely that the percentage has a chance for a significant increase.

Before the adoption of the bill in the first reading, the initiative was supported by the acting Minister of Health Ulana Suprun. She emphasized that she always uses a safety belt in a car.  According to Suprun, drivers can be divided into two groups according to their attitude to safety belts. The first one is substantially smaller, they are those drivers who are always fastened and draw the attention of their passengers to it. The second category is the drivers, who not only never fasten their belts, but are also surprised when the passenger decides to use a safety belt. After all, they perceive it primarily as a distrust of the passenger to the driver but not as a healthy desire to protect him.

At the same time, Suprun emphasizes: the use of seat belts is one of the most effective means of protecting drivers and passengers. According to the WHO, drivers reduce the death risk in the front seat by 40-50%, and in the back by 25-75%. However, this doesn’t prevent individual drivers from using special “stubs”, so that the annoying car doesn’t bore them with a reminder signal. The draft law, according to the author of the post, will be able to change the behaviour of drivers and passengers as well as to form a new habit – to be always fastened in the car. Uh-huh, also it’s cool, when skilful Chinese people put the image of some saints on that stubs. They say that in such cases St. Nicolas increases the protection of the driver up to 200%.

There were also some jokes. The vast majority of them is about, perhaps, the most widespread probable perception of such changes. It’s like – why do you want to fine me? Put all the oligarchs behind the bars first and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, the phrase “Let the Poroshenko’s son fastens first, then I’ll start” can also work. In short, there are cases when a new law may punish before changing behaviour. And it is good that it can this way.

Alexey Kucherenko, the chairman of the Association of Housing Owners of Ukraine, took a rather sceptical approach to the bill, hinting that the speed limit of up to 50 km/h hasn’t worked out at the proper level, and the size of the fine allegedly shows “care”, which seems highly insincere. What does the author suggest in return? Not to accept the new laws until the old ones work. Well, you know, according to this we could still remain somewhere in the Stone Age until everything would work. Believe me, strange things are sometimes written in this Facebook.

With a lion’s share of irony, the blogger Yury Bogdanov has also recalled the limit of 50 km/h. He said, that it’s been already 9 months, since all drivers are moving at such speed, and the drivers cope with the control very well. Well, with faith in the better future and the changes in our country, it seems that everything is just great.

However, the press secretary of the patrol police of Cherkasy region Zoya Vovk tried to explain what the new bill means. Firstly, the document has been sent for revision. After it, the draft will be considered again at a session of the Verkhovna Rada. If then, the deputies vote for it, then the bill is sent to the head of the Verkhovna Rada for signature, and only then to the president. In the end, a potential law can come into force only after its publication. So it’s too early to cry about victory.

Vovk also emphasized that in France, the penalty for ignoring the seat belt is about 4400 hryvnia, in Slovenia it is 3,900 hryvnia, and in the Czech Republic it’s 2,500 hryvnias. So obviously it’s not worth screaming about draconian methods and fines.

Oleksii Rohovyk, an international lawyer, in his turn, supported the Verkhovna Rada’s decision to vote for the bill. He noted that it would be better to increase penalties and liability even more. After all, driving permanently fastened is a normal civilized and obligatory practice in the West, and all who have the different opinion don’t think about themselves or the other people. Whoever complies with the rules – doesn’t pay fines, therefore the arguments about extortion should go to the trash bin.

Victor Andrusiv, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Institute of Future, is convinced that the Verkhovna Rada’s decision is completely meaningless since using the safety-belt is motivated neither by a fine nor by fear. The only reason why the author of the post does this himself is the habit that has been developed since the time of the driving lessons. At the same time, the expert emphasizes: raising the fine simply increases the level of corruption. Moreover, a significant number of people in Ukraine are considering a fine as a “bad luck”, so those who don’t have this habit won’t do it because of the punishment increase.

Andrusiv also stressed that fines work abroad because of a slightly different system: all this information is available for the market. That is if you often violate the rules, car insurance, and health insurance are becoming more expensive for you. You are less likely to get a loan, and even less likely to have a responsible position at work. All this is more terrible than a one-time fine payment.  Therefore, the specialist emphasizes: the size of the penalty doesn’t matter. Its consequence is the thing that has significance. Moreover, the logic of punishment in order to achieve the desired is purely Soviet logic. It eventually hadn’t led to law-abidingness and in the Soviet Union itself. That’s what we have, boys and girls. Take care and avoid cars, where the driver uses a stub with all the saints instead of the safety belts. No matter whether it is the Virgin Mary, St. Nicolas or even an incumbent president.

Reactions were collected and the seat belt was always fastened by Stepan the Goat

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