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Rio Official: Run the Red Light

January 30, 1998

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ The streets of Rio are so dangerous that running a red light is sometimes a good idea, the city’s top traffic official said Friday.

Paulo Afonso Cunha, Rio’s secretary of transportation, said it was better to break the law than risk getting mugged on a deserted city street.

``No one should stay stopped at a red light at three in the morning,″ he said in a radio interview Friday. ``It’s a question of legitimate self-defense.″

Under a new law that took effect Jan. 22, those who run red lights are fined $155 and assessed seven penalty points. Drivers who get 20 points in a year lose their license.

Cunha’s comments added to skepticism that the harsh and complex new laws are incapable of taming Brazil’s chaotic traffic.

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