Traffic Challan Woes
Heavy fines coupled with simultaneous initiatives to inculcate traffic sense is the only way forward.
Ever since the amended Motor Vehicle Act came into effect with effect from 1st Sept 2019, many persons are found arguing passionately against the provision of heavy fines, main argument being that the poor and low paid employees will not be able to such heavy fines.
A friend broached the topic with me and was disappointed at my whole hearted support to imposition of heavy penalties. To my utter surprise he went on to say that if the problem of traffic violations had been dealt with stringently for the “last 70 years” there would have been no requirement for such heavy fines today! My insistence that the quantum of fine should be detrimental enough for the violator to desist from putting his own life and the life of others at grave risk was not received well. I am of the firm view that except for negligible number of inadvertent violations, all others are done deliberately. The bribe culture is a further incentive to the problem.
Violations are a norm rather than exception. Umpteen number of vehicles of all kinds zig zagging at high speed through heavy traffic without regard for the other motorists, jumping the red light, talking on phone while driving and three or even four persons riding a two wheeler without helmet are a common sight. Such violations are committed by all strata of society, age and gender.
Reluctance of many states including those ruled by the BJP to implement the orders emanates from compulsions of vote bank politics. The politicians have to realise that certain decisions even though not popular have to be taken for overall good of the society.
Fear of heavy penalties is already proving effective as apparent from number of cars – even high end ones – and two wheelers lined up on petrol pumps for pollution check after the new penalties came into force. A penalty of Rs 1000/- was not deterrent enough for them to spend Rs 50/- per annum to get this certificate. However, the penalty of Rs 10000/- is proving to be so. Similarly, the compliance of helmet in Delhi/NCR appears to have gone up manifolds over the last fortnight. Vehicles which used to block the traffic flow from different direction on a red light are now seen to be respecting the line and stopping behind it. If such striking improvement in compliance can be achieved in a short period, the heavy penalties are obviously having the intended effect.
Penalties however, are not the only solution. Efforts have also to be made simultaneously in educating the public about necessity of complying with the rules. The violators should be counselled to follow rules along with imposition of penalties. Visual media should also be used extensively to educate people about necessity of compliance.
With the motto of “teaching them young” the schools should play more active part in inculcating the civic sense and make them law abiding citizens. In the primary School located within the BSF campus at Siliguri, the Commandant concerned used his initiative to create a traffic park complete with lights etc. Children were taken there in toy cars and educated about traffic rules through role play. Such projects have one time cost, which too is not much. These will however be beneficial to the society in long run hence should be implemented in all schools.
Traffic violations can be divided into fatal and non-fatal categories. Some violations like driving without helmet, over speeding, jumping the red light, drunken driving, red light violation, using mobile phone or not putting on belt while driving fall into dangerous category. Others like non possession of Registration Certificate, Driving Licence, Insurance certificate or Pollution under check certificate are less dangerous.
Government “E Vahan” portal can be effectively used to check violations like uninsured vehicle or non-compliance of pollution norms can be easily monitored through government “e vahan” portal which has every detail of all the vehicles registered with authorities. The portal can send periodic reminders on registered numbers of owners to renew the insurance or get pollution certificate renewed when nearing the expiry date. Fines can be levied on the owner without physical intervention after a grace period through the portal itself.
Traffic Police should be equipped with “E Vahan” app to enable them to verify these details even if the owner is not in physical possession of these documents or even in electronic shape. This will save a lot of paperwork and inconvenience.
The process of issuing driving licence also needs to be reviewed. Presently, the applicant is tested only for his driving skills. There is no test of road sense in the process nor any counselling done for the same. Testing on simulators will be effective in inculcating this.
Dangerous violations as categorised above should be monitored through cameras and speed monitors placed at suitable locations. Physical intervention by Police and therefore obstruction of traffic flow can thus be minimised. Impounding of vehicles and driving Licences of repeat violators would also go a long way in curbing the evil. Not giving Petrol to two wheeler owners without helmets is also a good move in this regard.
It has to be understood that it is not mandatory to violate traffic rules and “no cost can be attached to a human life”. Heavy fines coupled with simultaneous initiatives to inculcate traffic sense is the only way forward.
Sanjiv Krishan Sood is a Retired Additional Director General of Border Security Force. Having put in over 38 years of meritorious service he has served along all the borders of our country with Pakistan and Bangladesh including eight years on LC, and in the sensitive Samba Sector of J&K. A security analyst, his interests include Border Management, issues of topical interest, the role of security forces in Security Matrix of India, politics and humour. He tweets at @sood_2