The government believes that these vehicles are dangerous for traffic" />

Discontent in Armenia over new law forbidding right-hand drive cars

The government believes that these vehicles are dangerous for traffic

Drivers of right-hand drive cars held a demonstration in the form of a motorcade. They are unhappy about the government of Armenia’s intent to temporarily ban the import of similar cars starting on 1 April 2018, after which the sale of such cars will also be forbidden.

A total of 35 000 such drivers have for a long time now expressed their annoyance at the government over this issue. On 22 December they met with the Ministry of Transport and made their cases.

Minister Vaan Martirosyan said that the import of such automobiles cannot be allowed because they are dangerous to local traffic and its movement because in Armenia cars drive on the right side. The minister also spoke at length to the drivers arguing that drivers of such cars have less visibility. The participants of the protest did not agree with this argument:

“There is police data which suggests that cars with steering-wheels on the right-hand side make up 11 percent of all vehicles involved in accidents on the road. You say that this is being done for safety. We want a basis for this argument. If right-hand drive cars were responsible for 11 percent of accidents this doesn’t mean that it was namely the drivers that were guilty,” said a participant of the protest Gevorg Achemyan.

However, the protesters were unable to convince the minister. Moreover, he refused to ride in such a car with one of the protesters in order to see for himself what it was like. Vaan Martirosyan said that he won’t sit inside a car that has a steering wheel on the right-hand side because he is not a ‘kamikaze’.

The drivers think that this is not the biggest and most pressing problem in the transport sector which requires immediate attention. They believe that the ministry would do better to take care of inter-province roads, marking of street signs in the capital and installing traffic signs where none exist.

Participants of the protest underlined the fact that in a country like Armenia where it is difficult to make money you can’t forbid people from selling their property when they need to do so.

“I don’t think that the social-economic situation in our country will allow them to make such decisions. In Armenia the number of cars with a right-hand steering wheel is large and owners will have problems if this solution is accepted. I saved a long time to buy my car. God forbid that if I have to sell it because of, well, let’s say some problems with my health, that I wouldn’t be able to do that,” said one of the participants of the protest.

The two sides in the end did not come to an agreement. However, the minister promised to think about their arguments and to present his opinion on Tuesday.

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