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Traffic police in Iraq will soon begin issuing tickets to drivers who violate the nation’s seatbelt law. The mandate applies only to drivers, not passengers; violators will be fined 15 000 dinars (about US$12.50, €8). Despite more urgent problems on Iraq’s roads, officials say the enforcement of such a law has a unique purpose. “It is part of the healing process of this country and of Baghdad to enforce the law, law by law,” said Brigadier General Zuhair Abada Mraweh, traffic commander for Bagdad’s Rusafah district. “The citizens are learning the laws step by step. We have applied all the laws concerning traffic, so it’s time for the seatbelt law to be practiced,” he said. Traffic police have been a constant presence on Iraq’s roads during the last 5 years. But during that time, a high import tax on automobiles was lifted, flooding the country with new drivers. The number of traffic crashes is unknown, but enforcing the seatbelt law could reduce injuries by 70%, said Mraweh. Drivers agreed that enforcement of the law would be a positive thing. “It is a symbol of civilization,” said taxi driver Ahmed Wahayid.
From CDC Public Health Law News, Wednesday 23 April 2008. Contributed by Jeanette Hudson and Brian Johnston.
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