Flemish public transport drivers collect record number of fines

Drivers working for the Flemish public transport company De Lijn received a record number of traffic fines last year. The year 2015 had 1,332 fines, of which 80 percent were related to speeding. At present, drivers seldom have to cough up the fines themselves, but De Lijn aims to change this.

Speeding offences were mainly minor, with drivers not exceeding the maximum speed with more than 10 km/h in 80 percent of the cases. There were also 251 other traffic offences. Some relate to parking, but 5 were heavy offences of the 4th grade, such as going against the traffic, overtaking in a bend or ignoring a red sign at a level crossing.

De Lijn boss Roger Kesteloot says that on average, De Lijn drivers only get one fine every 95,000 kilometres. "Each fine is one too much, but it does put things into perspective."

Trades unions claim that some timetables are not adapted to the real situation on the road. "A service can be calculated on 50 km/h, while in reality a 30 km/h speed limit applies."

End the system of "the employer pays"

Drivers don't have to pay the fines themselves, but De Lijn is working out new rules to change this. According to this plan, drivers would only escape a first fine. A second fine would imply they pay 75 percent themselves.

A distinction will also be made between minor and heavy offences. The employer would adopt a softer approach for smaller mistakes. However, there are a number of exceptions. Nuisance fines and fines for smoking and using mobile phones behind the wheel, always have to be paid by the drivers.