Steep penalties for traffic rule violations from today
- From today, fine up to Rs 5,000 for jumping traffic light, using mobile phone while driving, overtaking wrongly and driving against flow of traffic
- Penalties for drunk driving, not wearing a helmet or using the seatbelt also increased
- Provision made to impose 200% fine on traffic police and transport department personnel caught contravening traffic rules
Almost all enhanced penal provisions for traffic offences in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act become applicable from September 1. "The penalties have been increased substantially for offences that pose greater risk to other road users," a transport ministry official said. "Each case of jumping the traffic light, driving against the flow of traffic or using a phone while driving can result in an accident."
Penalties for drunk driving, not wearing a helmet or using the seatbelt have also been increased. This is also for the first time that a provision has been made to impose a stiff 200% fine on traffic police and transport department personnel caught contravening traffic rules.
Cameras, IT-based monitoring to help cops
Repeat offences will attract higher fines. It is for this reason that the traffic police in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad, among others, have been given handheld devices that can establish past offences by a car driver. "We expect all state police to make use of the handheld machines as standard operating procedure. Catching violations of traffic rules will improve through the use of camera and IT-based monitoring and enforcement of laws," said another ministry official.
Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had recently told TOI that the main intention behind the enacting higher penalties was to create a sense of fear among violators. "We expect every driver to be responsible on road and comply with traffic rules," the minister had said.
However, the increase in the fines alone may not bring order on the roads. K K Kapila, former head of the International Road Federation, argued, "It's high time police and government departments changed the narrative of their road campaign. We should talk about how following traffic rules save lives, and not just about money. The cost of accidents is enormous and its burden on the health system and families is huge."
Road safety activist Harman Sidhu, who had campaigned against liquor shops along national highways, said that addressing just one issue wouldn't yield the desired results. "Why are they not enforcing existing laws to manage highways, roads passing through rural areas and not investigating traffic crashes to find the exact cause of accidents?" asked Sidhu.
The fines are burdensome for violators, but the amended provisions also have some people-friendly clauses. For example, people can now get their driving licences renewed anytime within a year before the expiry of the current licence. Earlier, one was allowed to apply only a month prior to the expiry. For commercial drivers, the new or renewed licence will be valid for five years against the earlier provision of three years. In addition, you can now apply for a driving licence or vehicle registration from any regional transport office in the state of residence.