New Russian bill bans hired drivers from using driver’s licenses issued outside the country

A senator has proposed banning various companies from hiring drivers with foreign-issued or international driver’s licenses in order to boost road safety in Russia.

The bill – submitted by Senator Akhmat Salpagarov to the State Duma on Thursday – also sets a six-month transition period during which foreigners can exchange their licenses for similar documents issued in Russia.

In an explanatory note attached with the bill, the senator describes this period as “realistic” given the fact that the procedure of exchange has been tried and tested in the country and that most companies that use automobile transport are currently successfully retraining foreigners who want to join their staff.

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Salpagarov also wrote in the note that according to expert estimations, between 30 and 40 percent of people who work as taxi drivers in Moscow are foreigners who use foreign-issued driving permits. Most of these people come from former republics of the Soviet Union.

The senator also quoted interior ministry statistics according to which in the first seven months of 2018 Russia saw 5,040 traffic accidents involving drivers with foreign-issued permits that ended in death or injury. In Moscow alone, the number of such accidents reached 1022, or 21 percent of the overall number.

Russian lawmakers have previously proposed tightening the rules for foreigners who work as drivers, but their calls became louder after, in mid-2013, a gravel-loaded truck driven by an Armenian citizen crashed into a bus near the town of Podolsk in suburban Moscow killing 18 people and injuring over 40. About a year after the incident, the driver was sentenced to six months and nine years in prison.

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