Will steeper fines be a double-edged sword?

Experts say the Union Ministry’s proposal to hike penalty for traffic violations will make roads safer, but motorists feel that it will only lead to more corruption

Published: 05th August 2016 03:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th August 2016 05:13 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Traffic violators across the country will soon have to shell out a hefty sum with the Union cabinet approving the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016. With the proposed fines set to increase by up to five times, road safety experts believe the step will help rein in rash driving.

But motorists are of a different opinion. They feel that the move may lead to corruption since paying bribes could turn out to be cheaper than forking out the proposed fines. “It’s not affordable to pay Rs 1,000 as fine for not wearing a helmet. Most traffic offenders may choose to pay Rs 200-Rs 300 as bribe and get away with the violation once the bill comes into effect,” said a motorist who travels daily on Outer Ring Road.

K Shivakumar, a motorist, said the government should work towards providing better road infrastructure before hiking fines for violations. “Increasing fines is not likely to reduce the number of accidents. The government should impose heavy fines on officials who are responsible for damaged roads that cause accidents.”

will steeper.jpgThe Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which will soon be tabled in Parliament, seeks to amend the existing Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The bill aims to reduce accidents and fatalities by 50 per cent in five years.

Road safety experts welcomed the proposal. Advait Jani, who works with the Institute for Transport Development and Policy (ITDP), said unruly drivers can’t blame condition of roads for not following road rules. “The revision of fines for violations was long overdue. It may deter motorists from breaking traffic rules. The government is headed in the right direction,” he said. 

According to records of Bengaluru Traffic Police, there has been a gradual increase in the amount of fine collected for violations in the city over the past three years. The fine amounts collected has increased from Rs 56.98 crore in 2013 to Rs 65.92 crore in 2014 and Rs 70.44 crore in 2015. This is set to double once the amendment bill is passed.

Jani said government agencies should utilise the additional funds on improving or adding resources, like face recognition and CCTV cameras.

R Hitendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said revision of fines was the need of the hour. “Errant motorists can no longer get away by paying meagre fines. There is no scope of corruption as 90 per cent of violations will be captured on cameras. Since human interference is less, chances of corruption will also be low.”

Rudramurthy, general secretary of Autorickshaw Driver’s Union, said the steep fines for traffic offences is not a practical solution.

“An average auto driver in the city earns only Rs 300-Rs 400 a day but now the fine for violations has been proposed to be increased without considering the ground reality. For instance, the proposed bill says fine for overloading a vehicle is Rs 1,000 per extra passenger. We already pay the highest road tax in the country but our roads are not designed to accommodate large volumes of traffic, so minor traffic violations are common. The increased fine amount should not be used as a weapon to harass auto drivers.”

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