Riyadh to adopt tougher measures against licence plate spraying

January 12, 2013

Licence spraying is to be criminalised in Saudi Arabia – Al Eqatisadiya

Traffic authorities in Saudi Arabia are looking at stiffening penalties against people who spray their car plates to prevent them from being photographed by photo radars or red light cameras.

The decision to stiffen the punitive measures is in response to the increasing number of drivers who use spray to make their plates invisible to road detectors, officials told local Arabic daily Al Eqtisadia.

“The current measures are not really a deterrent with fines ranging between 500 riyals [Dh489] and 900 riyals,” the sources said. “In some Gulf countries, the penalty is up to 30,000 riyals.”

In a bid to improve its road culture and enhance compliance with traffic regulations, Saudi Arabia has recently introduced Saher, an automated traffic control and management system that uses digital cameras network linked with the interior ministry’s National Information Centre. The system covers major cities in the kingdom.

However, drivers have resorted to concealing their car plates in an attempt to beat the system.

“It is mainly people driving long distances who try to cover their plates to prevent Saher from recording their violations,” the sources said. “We have warned all drivers to make sure they do not conceal any of the letters or figures on the plates in their deliberate attempt to outsmart Saher.”

Plate concealment is also popular among young men who engage in dangerous joyrides on major highways or in open places in the outskirts of the cities or near schools.

Despite attempts by the authorities to curb the phenomenon, car drifting, locally known as tafheet, is becoming increasingly popular, especially during exam times and school breaks.

“We have drawn up plans to cover all the areas where we know that young people plan to have joyrides,” a traffic official in the Saudi capital Riyadh told Al Eqtisadia. “Some of these drivers are not in a normal condition and often look for immoral matters. Unfortunately, they are encouraged by the cheers of the onlookers and spectators. Most of the cars are stolen.”

Under new measures, drifters are now arrested for one month and required to pay heavy fines.

“We have recently arrested 20 drifters and impounded 78 cars,” the official said.

Under Saudi traffic law, cars are impounded when they have no licence plates or when drivers use licence plates other than the original ones. An attempt to obliterate the features that define the car also results in its impoundment.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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