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19 Jan, 2008 02:32

Heavy fines to slow speeding Russians?

Bad drivers in Russia can now be jailed for up to 15 days, as part of a raft of changes designed to reduce around 30,000 road deaths each year. Several hundred drivers have already received civil imprisonment while hundreds of others have forked out for

Traffic fines in Russia used to be very low by Western standards. For instance, running a red light would only cost $US 5.  Now it costs $US 25. And violations like drinking and driving without a license could cost you $US 200 or up to 15 days behind bars.

Russia is still far from many Western countries. In the U.S., a speeding ticket could cost up to $US 1,100, whilst in Russia it's only a hundred.

Police say the new tough action works – they say road incidents have already dropped by half compared to the same period last year.

Nevertheless, some human rights activists say that new fines won't solve problems on the road.  

“I think that recently introduced traffic penalties serve the interests of traffic police and not the road safety.  Bribes will only get higher,” says Viktor Travin, human rights activist.

Allegations of corruption among road police are rife.

Many Russian drivers believe they can buy their way out of any situation – it's just a matter of price. But some now think that playing by the rules is more cost-effective.