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April 28, 2008

Speeders to be whipped

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Ontario’s anti-speeding laws, which are among the toughest in Canada, bear a striking similarity to those currently being enforced in Iran. Or at least they did. Next month Iranian courts plan to up the ante as overzealous Iranian drivers will face either jail terms or corporal punishment for speeding on public roads.

In October 2007, Ontario's Liberal government implemented a crackdown on what they perceived to be a deadly epidemic of street racing. The new law charged anyone that exceeded the speed limit by 50 km/h or more with fines of between $2,000 and $10,000, licence suspensions and vehicle impoundment.

The harsh punishment was supposed to deter those that were using public roads to race, but instead caught over 1,000 motorists in the first six weeks since its implementation. Also unexpected was the over 2 million dollar windfall that began to find its way into the provinces coffers.

The report of Iran’s new flogging policy also mentioned that there was a concern for public safety. Though street racing wasn’t cited as the grounds for their new law, it is well documented that fatalities from traffic accidents on Iranian highways have been on a dramatic rise over the past few years.

Until now Iranian police have punished speeding drivers with fines, seizure of licences and confiscation of cars, just like their counterparts in Ontario. However starting in May, jail terms ranging from 3 months to a year, or punishment by 74 lashes can be added to the penalty.

Although flogging is currently allowed under Iran's Islamic sharia law for crimes such as theft and adultery, it isn’t frequently used as a form of punishment.