During one of the Arabnet panels last week, we had the chance to engage with the people behind the ISF and TMC twitter accounts and most of the tweets that I saw seemed to agree that both accounts are doing a great job online but the story is different on the ground. Everyone is interacting online with the ISF and TMC and sharing pictures of drivers breaking the law, but nothing is really changing offline. Of course there are hopes that the new traffic law would help make things better but a lot of Lebanese are skeptical about it and whether it will be properly implemented or not.
This being said, I had a cool idea few days ago that might help implement this new traffic law as well as fix our roads, while making sure there are no corrupt policemen or citizens trying to abuse the new law. If we look back at previous attempts to enforce traffic law, they all failed because of 4 key issues:
– People don’t trust the cops and the authorities.
– Attempts to enforce traffic laws were usually applied in few regions only.
– Corrupt policemen and drivers were abusing the law to skip the fines.
– The infrastructure and the roads are getting worse.
On the other hand, I strongly believe that there are a lot of decent and competent individuals in the ISF and TMC capable of implementing the law fully, gaining people’s trust and working on enhancing the roads, but in order for that to happen, you need an automated system that is monitored by a small group and that allows engagement between the related parties and the people. What I’m talking about is an app or platform that I randomly called “3layye wou 3leik” and that works that way:
Who will use this platform?
The app will be accessible to 3 types of users:
– The Lebanese Driver, who will be able to see his fines and pay them, as well as report violations* (will elaborate on this point next). Drivers will register using their license plate number and their mobile number which are unique.
– The Police Officer, who will report violations he sees and fine cars based on a car plate number.
– The Traffic Management Center, who will be in charge of validating and approving the fines and violations reported.
How will it work?
The hardest part is coming up with this software and the rest is pretty simple. All officers will be given special devices where they will only be able to write down fines and send them directly to the application where they will stored under a certain driver’s plate number. The officer will have to back his violation with pictures and a video (at a first stage) that will be investigated then approved or declined by the Traffic Management Officer. Once approved, the driver will have to settle the amount online and further sanctions will apply if he’s late or refuses to pay.
Now here’s the interesting part. Drivers will also be able to report violations that they see and document them as well, that way if a police officer is breaking the law, he will also be reported and investigated by the Traffic Management Center. If the violation is validated and approved, then there are three ways to proceed here:
– If the driver has pending fines, he will be able to take out 1 or more, depending on the type of violation he reported.
– If the driver has no fines, then the officer will have to pay the fine.
– If the driver has pending fines yet wants the officer to pay, then he will also have that option.
Aside from violations committed by police officers or army men or politicians, drivers will be able to report violations committed by the municipalities and ministers such as leaving manholes open, not fixing potholes, parking in the wrong places etc. When such issues are reported, the municipality and ministries will have to comply within a set period before they get sanctioned.
This is just a brief description and there are more details to be shared (maybe later), but the idea is that municipalities, police officers and drivers will encourage each other to respect the law in order to escape the fines and there will be a competent and trust-worthy panel to monitor what’s happening and do the right thing. Things may be tricky at first due to the lack of evidence, which is why I recommend setting up cameras at a later stage to eliminate any human intervention and assist the Traffic Management Center. Moreover, traffic judges will have the final say in case any of the app users (driver or cop) wants to appeal a traffic violation.
How will people pay their fines?
This is the easiest part. Since all payments are done online, drivers will be able to track down their fines and points automatically, unlike what’s happening now where we need to waste a whole day just to pay a speeding ticket. As for police officers, army men, politicians, officials, municipality members and ministries, fines will be deducted from their salaries if they refuse to pay and invested in fixing and enhancing roads.
All in all, what I’m proposing is a pragmatic approach to this whole mess we are in, and even though the solution is not an ideal one and needs further brainstorming, I think it would be a great starting point and an effective way to try and implement this new traffic law once and for all. Let me know what you guys think and whether I missed out on some key points or it’s a decent idea.