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20:57 GMT +3 hours20 December 2014
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Russia

Medvedev Blasts Traffic Violations, Urges Crackdown

Russia
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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has suggested raising fines for drivers running a red light, crossing into the oncoming lane of traffic or speeding up to 500,000 rubles (about $16,000) in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

MOSCOW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev lashed out on Saturday against traffic violations in Russia, calling for greater responsibility on the roads and even urging a $16,000 fine for traffic violations.

“The plan is to strengthen the administrative responsibility of drivers for speeding, running red lights, crossing into the opposing lane, and other dangerous traffic violations,” he said in video address posted to his blog.

He suggested hiking the fines up to an astronomic 500,000 rubles (about $16,000) in cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, while halving that number in Russia's regions. He added that the proposal would require closer consideration.

The current fine for running a red light is 1,000 rubles (about $32).

According to the prime minister’s data, nearly 28,000 people were killed in car accidents in Russia in 2011 alone.

“Even sidewalks have become unsafe,” Medvedev said, in an apparent reference to a drunk driver who killed seven people in September after losing control of his car and slamming into a Moscow bus stop.

Medvedev's rhetoric coincides with increasingly vocal calls inside the Kremlin and among lawmakers to toughen legislation against drunk driving.

Lawmakers have already submitted a bill to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, which would increase the penalties for drunk driving. The bill proposes doubling the suspension time of offenders’ driver’s licenses to three years.

For drunk drivers involved in a fatal accident, meanwhile, lawmakers have proposed a life prison sentence.

A recent poll for the Public Opinion Foundation found that 60 percent of Russians support tougher laws against drunk driving.

Experts agree with toughening legislation against dangerous traffic violations, though some suggest tackling the problem will take far more.

Sergei Kanayev, president of the Federation of Russian Car Owners, urged a greater degree of discipline among both drivers and Russia’s notoriously corrupt traffic police.

“The problem now is not that the fines are too high or too low, but the fact that the rules of the road are simply not followed,” he said Saturday.

“If the traffic police cannot deal with this, then society should,” Kanayev added.