Says director general of KRG Interior Ministry Diwan

Point-to-point speed cameras ‘reduce traffic accidents by over 50% in Erbil’

NEWSROOM — One year after installing point-to-point speed cameras in the Kurdistan Region, traffic accidents have decreased by more than 50% in some areas.

On May 29, 2023, point-to-point speed cameras were activated for the first time on the Sulaymaniyah-Dukan road. These cameras will complete a year of operation in two days.

The point-to-point speed camera system operates by placing two cameras between three to four kilometers apart. If a driver reaches the second camera before the minimum time according to the speed limit has passed, a fine is issued. Previously, fixed speed cameras would see many drivers speed until they reach a camera before slowing down until it was passed.

Hemn Merany, Director General of the KRG’s Interior Ministry Diwan, told 964media, “The installation of point-to-point cameras has been a successful experiment in protecting people’s lives and property.”

Merany noted that traffic accidents in Sulaymaniyah were frequent before the cameras’ installation, often requiring multiple emergency response teams. Since the cameras were installed, the frequency of accidents has significantly decreased.

964media’s attempts to obtain pre- and post-installation data from the Sulaymaniyah Traffic Directorate were unsuccessful. Merany provided comparative data for Erbil. In the second half of 2023, following the installation of the cameras in Erbil, fewer than 200 traffic accidents occurred per month. In contrast, during the same period in 2022, between 500 and 600 accidents were recorded each month, indicating a reduction of over 50%.

Addressing complaints about the camera system, Merany explained that it is continuously monitored and updated. He acknowledged that the system may occasionally misread a license plate number, attributing a violation to the wrong vehicle. These errors are rare and primarily affect non-digital license plates. Drivers can contest fines, and if the discrepancy is confirmed, the fine is annulled.

Merany emphasized that traffic violations are uniformly enforced for all drivers, including those operating government vehicles. “Any driver caught by the cameras will receive a fine without exception.”

“In the near future, point-to-point camera systems will be installed on external roads in Sulaymaniyah,” he added.

On May 16, the Garmiyan Traffic Directorate announced plans to install additional speed cameras on roads between urban areas to reduce traffic accidents. This initiative includes more mobile speed cameras and the introduction of new point-to-point cameras.

The decision followed a accident on the Kalar-Kifri road, where a minibus carrying students overturned, killing four students and injuring five others, including a teacher and the driver.

Average speed cameras make it less likely that drivers can avoid detection. The introduction of these cameras has sparked controversy, particularly in Sulaymaniyah governorate, creating political challenges for local authorities.

On highways, the speed limit for point-to-point cameras is usually 110 kilometers per hour (about 62 mph) for light vehicles and 80 kilometers per hour (about 50 mph) for heavy trucks.