( RT ) - More than 30,000 people are killed in road accidents in Russia every year. New traffic fines were introduced at the start of the year in an attempt to make the roads safer. Major offences can now be punished with a civil imprisonment of up to 15 days, something that several hundred drivers across Russia have already had to serve.
Traffic fines in Russia used to be very low by Western standards. For instance, jumping a red light would only cost you $US 5.
Now, if you forget to fasten your seat belt, you'll have to pay around $ US 20 - 4 times more than it used to be. Jumping a red light - $ US 25 - up sevenfold compared to the previous charge. And violations like drinking and driving without a license could cost you $US 200 or up to 15 days behind bars.
Russia is still far from many Western countries. In the U.S., a speeding ticket could cost up to $ US 1,100, whilst in Russia it's only a hundred.
Police say the new tough action works - road incidents have already dropped by half compared to the same period last year.
Nevertheless, some human rights activists say that new fines won't solve problems on the road.
"I think that recently introduced traffic penalties serve the interests of traffic police and not the road safety. Bribes will only get higher," says Viktor Travin, human rights activist.
Allegations of corruption among road police are rife.
Many Russian drivers believe they can buy their way out of any situation - it's just a matter of price. But some now think that playing by the rules is more cost-effective.
The police hope that higher fines will win the war against bad road behavior. But it's still for the drivers to decide what the cost of their own lives is.