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Complaints have dropped by 70 percent since the Trans Israel Highway (Road 6) cut fines on late fees by 50 percent in June, Africa Israel Investments CEO Pinchas Cohen said yesterday.

"At first we exercised out right [to charge fines for late payment] to the full extent of the law, partly out of fear that the Israeli driver would not be prepared to pay for a service he had received for free till now," Cohen said. "However, after a while, it became clear that drivers were ready to pay for the convenience of the highway. In addition, public pressure against the high fines increased, so we decided to reduce them."

The fine reduction, though, is not the only factor in fewer complaints; drivers have become used to paying the toll. Cohen noted that 96 percent of Road 6 users pay on time.

Some 73,000 vehicles travel daily on the road, which is just short of the 75,000 target set together with the state. As a result, the state will likely not have to compensate Africa Israel, which owns the company operating the road, Derech Eretz Highways. In fact, the state may receive compensation if traffic volume surpasses the original estimates.

The Trans-Israel Highway, which runs from Gadera to Hadera, opened in August 2002, and began collecting tolls electronically in December of that year. The latest segment of the road to open was completed this past January.