New country-wide traffic law goes into effect although full implementation could take several months

Oct 23, 2008

Enforcement of Ecuador’s new traffic law begins in earnest this week as police across the country receive explanations of the new regulations … and new ticket books. Ecuador Department of Transportation officials said that full enforcement of the law will take several months due to on-going, training programs for taxi, bus and truck drivers.

Officials emphasize that the scope of changes require a major public education effort since many of the new regulations have never been on the books.

The law establishes a point system for drivers, similar to those used in North American and Europe. Serious offenses, such as driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, causing accidents resulting in injuries and serious damage and speeding will result in the most points being attached to a driver’s record. A high point total can result in the suspension of driving privileges.

The law requires drivers to wear seat belts, strengthens penalties for drivers who violate the rights of pedestrians as well as for those who transport passengers unsafely. The law also mandates helmet use for motorcycle riders, prohibits unauthorized construction of speed bumps on public roads and strengthens the rights of pedestirans. The prohibition against drivers' use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle seemed to receive particular notice by police as dozens of tickets were written in the first days of enforcement of the new rules.

Other new regulations require drivers to drop off and pick up passengers in a manner that does not impede traffic flow, and make excessive use of car horns a violation.

Officials in Cuenca said that full implementation of the law will take several months due the large number of new requirements. The city is distributing 10,000 brochures to drivers and pedestrians explaining the new rules.

Photo: Officials hope that the new traffic regs will create improved traffic flow in Cuenca's historic district.