Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Driving just became more expensive

Tanya and I are planning on attending an open-house at a big dairy farm (Agro-Soyuz) an hour the other side of Dnipropetrovsk. We will go tomorrow or Thursday (or not at all) depending. However it is not without its risks. A new set of traffic laws and fines came into force on Monday. The accident rate and death toll on the highways in Ukraine is horrendous. I know the public intent of the new laws is to try to do something about it. Privately, I think they are just to enrich policemen.

Parking 30 meters on each side of a bus stop - 500 UAH
Speeding >20 km over the limit - 500 to 700 UAH
No seat belt - 300 UAH
Talking on the mobile while driving - 500 UAH
Every car needs to carry a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and a warning triangle. Of course there are none in Ukraine as everyone tries to buy the required items. Not sure what the fine is but we will likely find out as we have been unable to get them.

The people who make the laws have no intention of obeying them. Nor will they apply to the rich or powerful. The big black cars with black windows won't be stopped for speeding as the policeman doesn't want to lose his job (or have to pay a bribe to them). Of course since the windows are black, no one will know if the seatbelts are done up or not, or if they are using the mobile or not.

The fines are between 25% and 50% of an average monthly wage (about $200 to $400). Paying a fine legally is such a bureaucratic hassle that people prefer to pay off the cops. The standard bribe will now go from 40 UAH to $40 (200 UAH). Andrei said that the first day a policeman in P'yatikhatki made 1000 UAH in bribes. The news today said the country took in 1 million UAH in fines in one day. Andrei figures it means the cops must have taken in 4 million in bribes.

Isn't it fun?

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