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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Going Nowhere Fast, Thanks to the GAI

Here is the next installment of my magnum opus on the annoyances of Moscow's traffic police.

Example No. 1: Every year, July 31 is an important date for all drivers because it is the end of the official time period for getting their car's technical inspection for the following year. Drivers who don't have a technical inspection card on their front window by this date take to the roads at their own risk.

Except this year. The GAI recently announced that this year's inspection period is being prolonged to Oct. 1 because the inspectors weren't able to keep up with demand due to the growing number of cars in Moscow. But motorists exhaling a long sigh of relief should wait to relax -- it turns out they are trapped in the city.

Moscow may have prolonged its inspection time period, but this hasn't happened in the regions, so now every car that leaves the Moscow Ring Road with their old 1996 inspection card may be stopped by the GAI. You don't need me to explain what comes next. You can pay a penalty of about 50,000 rubles, which is basically a bribe, or your driving license and license plates can be taken from you. The GAI fail to coordinate their policies, but who pays? Drivers, of course.

Example No. 2: This one hits close to home -- literally. I live in a very quiet street with tramway lines at its dead-end. There is only one intersection on my street, at the other end, which takes you onto Dmitrovskoye Shosse. Street repairs were started here a few weeks ago and turning right at the intersection is now forbidden. A week ago the repairs continued on the left side of the intersection, but only on one lane. The second lane was open to traffic, but the police made it one-way in the direction of my house. You see a "No Entry" sign if you turn there from my house.

This morning I was headed toward Dmitrovskoye Shosse when I saw a new "No Entry" sign, this time for drivers heading through the intersection. What to do? To the right it was closed. To the left entry was forbidden, and straight ahead was also not permitted. I decided to drive straight ahead anyway and the utterly predictable happened -- I was stopped by the GAI. I explained there was absolutely no other way to leave my street and a traffic officer took pity on me and kindly agreed not to take away my license -- this time. Instead, I only had to pay a 12,000 ruble penalty. Next time I have to park 500 meters away from my house. Or walk.