Last week, The Laotian Times reported road users in Hadxayfong District receiving hefty fines for failure to use seatbelts. Vientiane drivers took to social media to vent their frustrations on the seatbelt crackdown, outraged that without warning, they were suddenly being fined 150,000 LAK per traffic violation, with paper receipts of the fine to prove it.
However, this week law enforcement has cleared up the confusion on Article 18 of the Law on Land Traffic, stating that it is a law that will be strictly enforced in the near future, but only after adjustments have been made to refine and clarify the legislation.
Director of the Vientiane Traffic Police Department, Lieutenant Colonel Youttaphong Souvannasing, explained that officials have directed all Vientiane traffic police to cease penalizing citizens for not wearing seatbelts until regulations and fines are properly established and clarified. Presently, traffic department officials are formulating details for processing and issuing fines before implementation begins.
After the exact fines are determined, the law and associated fines to breaking that law, will then be publicly announced and put into force.
Though the regulation is not yet implemented by law enforcement, the Lieutenant Colonel still strongly advocates for all road users, not just drivers, to buckle up when in a moving vehicle for good practice. He pointed out that during this time of year, rocket festivals are common and though people shouldn’t be drinking and driving, intoxicated drivers can be found on the roads in and outside of the city.
Statistics show that those who utilize seat belts dramatically reduce the risk of vehicular death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.
According to a report from 2016, provided by the Traffic Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security, there was an estimated 83 billion kip in road damages nationwide. With 5,616 road accidents, 1,086 fatalities, 8,912 injuries and 10,305 damaged vehicles reported, road accidents have been steadily increasing every year.
Though the crackdown on seatbelt use may be delayed, the safety measure should still be implemented as good practice and will save hundreds, if not thousands of lives.