Muscat: Car rental companies will soon meet with the Royal Oman Police (ROP) to discuss sending traffic violations directly to speeding drivers, according to officials.
Currently, rental car companies are left to chase errant drivers in a bid to ensure that they pay fines, as the ROP notifications are sent to the company, which sometimes amount to as much as OMR1,000 a month.
The ROP is planning to discuss methods of reducing the steps required for these companies to pay traffic fines in a meeting with representatives of rental offices and companies at the General Directorate of Traffic at 9am on February 20.
“The police are working on a mechanism so that traffic violations will be directly sent to the driver and not the car rental company,” an official from the police said.
This is positive news for Sumit, Safeer automotive’s sales manager, who records fines worth nearly OMR5,000 annually, “For us, the amount is anywhere near between OMR4,000 and OMR5,000 per year on traffic violations.”
“If a person receives a traffic violation, we deduct the amount directly from the card that is used in the contract. It is clearly mentioned in the contract that in case of a violation, the fine amount will be deducted from the card,” Sumit said.
If a fine is recorded in the case of a rented vehicle, the ROP informs the company about the violation; the company then checks the date and time of the violation, and either directly deducts the value from the credit card, or contacts the customer to pay the fine.
Some rental companies are forced to apply harsher conditions in the contract for tourists and non-residents because once they leave the country, it can be difficult to track them down.
“Tourists have to pay for the car by credit card because sometimes, the ROP fines come late, after they return the car, and in those cases, we have to have a card which we can directly debit the amount from,” said an official from ABC rent-a-car company.
Drivers are fined for various violations such as “Passing a red light, speeding, or even parking in disabled parking spots. We receive approximately 1,500 fines per month,” added the official
To deal with the possible scenario of violators who leave the country before paying the fine, Al Mossa International car rental service requires non-residents to pay an additional deposit.
“We follow a policy of an ROP deposit for our international customers. We implement this policy because they can leave the country without paying a fine; this way, we guarantee that the fine will be paid.”
Al Moosa International records fines worth thousands of Omani rials every year.
“Annually, the value is approximately OMR1 to OMR2,000. As part of the contract, we take down credit card details in case of a violation. We also inform them [the violating driver] on WhatsApp about the fine, so that they are aware that an amount will be deducted from their card,” added an official from the company.
Hosen Mohammed, operation manager at Speedy Oman, said “per month, we receive fines worth at least OMR1,000. So far this year, until February 5, the value of fines we recorded reached OMR988.”
“To pay the fine, we give the local and resident customers an option of paying by card or cash; if they choose to pay by cash, then they come to our office and pay within a few days, while others tell us that they will pay when they get their next salary. For our international customers, we contact them via email and inform them about their fines,” added Mohammed. Either way, we always have their credit card details to deduct the amount if they do not pay.”