Cuenca bus and truck drivers are lobbying the National Assembly for changes to the national transit law, at least in the provisions that deduct driver’s license points for infractions. Under the law passed in 2008, drivers with less than 15 points out of a total of 30, are prohibited from working professionally.
According to Messiah Vicuña, secretary of the Azuay Province union of professional drivers, the current law infringes on the right of professional drivers to earn a living. “As it is currently written, the law does not consider the reality of driving in Ecuador. Speed limits are often arbitrary and unfair and traffic patterns are not the same as in other parts of the world. Professional drivers are not criminals and they should be judged realistically on the conditions they work under.”
Vicuña and other professional drivers’ union representatives are demanding an elimination of the driver’s license point deduction system.
In addition, Vicuña’s claims that transit police are too quick to write speeding tickets as well as issue citations for non-use of seat belts and talking on cell phones. “There needs to be more leniency for these violations based on conditions in specific situations,” he says.
So far in 2019, professional drivers have been ticketed 220 times for speeding, according to transit police.
Édison Moscoso, provincial traffic commission director, does not object to some of the professional driver demands but says that the drivers must be held to a higher standard because of their interaction with the public. “It is up to the drivers to meet the standards, not up to the standards to meet the drivers’ bad habits. I fully support a common sense approach to traffic laws but the safety of the public must come first.”
The point deduction system is one of at least a dozen reforms being considered by the National Assembly. Among the others are revisions to mandatory jail sentences for drunk drivers and for owners of vehicles driving with bald tires.