Revealed: The truth about Lebanon’s speed cameras and whether they are about to be installed across the country
17 June 2015 at 15:53
As Lebanon hurls itself towards a new era of road safety and the imposition of tough new fines for those who fall foul of the code, has the media – or indeed the state's own spin machine – got carried away over the subject of speed cameras?
Do the cameras actually exist? Are they coming? Or do they exist as part of a grandiose scheme as a minister's blueprint but in reality are nothing more than a figment of a sloppy journalist's imagination?
In effort that appears to be furthering the implementation of the New Traffic Law, fixed speed cameras seem to have sprung up on the periphery of southern Beirut on the road to Dahye in Ramlet el Bayda.
When asked for confirmation, both a police chief and an ISF official denied the installation of any new speed cameras – particularly those fixed ones attached to street-side lampposts.
In separate interviews with An Nahar English, Kamel Ibrahim from YASA and police chief Hussein Hassan confirmed that the only speed radars functioning in Lebanon are those in jeeps and as stand-alone installations on the side of the road.
"The radars that were installed in 2010 are still functional on our roads, with maybe 20 new ones coming into place" Kamel Ibrahim told An Nahar English, but did not go into detail as to where or what kind of speed radars these 20 could be.
Neither of the officials was able to shed light on the sudden appearance or function of these allusive speed cameras either, however, at close inspection they appear to be lighting contraptions.
But just because the government has no imminent plans of installing any new speed cameras, doesn't mean they aren't essential.
"Lebanon needs these radars, especially on long highway stretches like those of Baabda or Khalde and Jihey where many accidents happen" says Ibrahim.
Speaking of speeding sanctions
The current policy regarding issuing speeding violations is either via mail delivery by Liban Post or checking the ISF website where you enter your vehicle number and area code.
Yet the administrative disorganization Lebanon suffers from inhibits many drivers from ever finding out whether they violated the speeding limit, or any other one of Lebanon's curious traffic laws.
Ibrahim told An Nahar English that YASA is currently lobbying for more efficient methods of sanctioning: "We are trying to encourage people to change their addresses and provide as complete as possible contact and address details."
According to the New Traffic Law, the money collected from traffic violations will be distributed as follows: 25 percent will go to the ISF, 20 percent to municipalities and 35 percent to judges.
Do speed cameras really matter?
In 2007, Kunhadi conducted a study with the Lebanese Red Cross on a road stretch in Byblos to find out the main cause of fatal crashes. The results yielded speed as the main cause of fatal and non-fatal crashes. Victims were mostly aged between 15 to 29 years.
In an interview with Kunhadi's Communication Coordinator, May Abdouny, she explains that Kunhadi's main target is young drivers as they often feel invincible behind the wheel: "They never expect themselves or their friends even to be affected by a car crash."
According to Abdouny, their latest campaign in collaboration with American Open University focuses more on respecting the speed limits rather than about speed cameras and excessive speed sanctions.
So what is that Lebanon really needs? Is it more speed cameras? Or is it rigorous educational campaigning like Kunhadi and YASA are doing? Either way, Lebanon's drivers have a long, bumby road ahead of them.