Delhi traffic cops step up action against violators, may collect Rs 100 cr through challans
Delhi Traffic Police is set to rake in a record Rs 100 crore as fines and challans by the end of 2017, after a ‘conscious decision’ to increase the visibility of traffic cops on roads.
The renewed effort has also brought down the number of road fatalities by nearly 15% this year so far, with as many as 47.76 lakh motorists flouting road rules being fined in the first nine months of 2017, compared to a total of 40.25 lakh motorists last year.
A senior traffic officer said that fines have already added Rs 74.84 crore to the government’s coffers in the first nine months of 2017, as compared to Rs 66.89 crore collected as penalty last year.
The highest-ever collection by the traffic police so far was in 2007, when prosecution of errant drivers yielded Rs 84.81 crore.
Dependra Pathak, special CP (traffic), confirmed that their projections hinted that the department might earn Rs 100 crore by the year end, but insisted that earning money through fines was not the objective. “We would rather that motorists followed traffic rules and our collections dipped,” he said. The money collected as fine goes to the Union government’s exchequer.
In the last three years, penalties for dangerous driving, riding without helmet, illegal parking and speeding has made up for most of the money collected by the traffic police.
Dangerous driving carries a fine of Rs 1,000 while speeding can be fined with Rs 400. The penalty for riding without helmet and illegal parking is Rs 100 each.
In the past few months, however, the traffic police have been focusing particularly on offences that cause fatal accidents. “Not using a vehicle’s head and tail lights or indicators can lead to fatal accidents. This year the number of such offenders have gone up by 250%, when compared to last year. We have also challaned significantly more number of motorists who ran a red light, violated the speed limit , crossed the stop line or drove against the flow of traffic,” said Pathak.
Experts agreed that the fear of prosecution can help make the roads of a city safer. But for more efficiency and transparency, they said, the policing system must move towards electronic prosecutions.
Piyush Tewari, founder of Savelife Foundation, an NGO on road safety, said monitoring cameras and sensors will not only increase the number of prosecutions but also reduced corruption.
“A research by Transparency International has found that Rs 22,000 crore is collected as bribe from truckers in India every year. The police corner nearly 57% of that amount. Although the situation is better in Delhi, electronic enforcement will ensure better transparency,” said Tewari.
He said the police should also focus on prosecuting offenders in the night hours when chances of fatal accidents are higher. “The use of automatic number plate reading (ANPR) cameras, which can capture images even in fog or darkness, will increase prosecutions and help prevent deaths,” said Tewari.
Dr S Velmurugan, senior principal scientist, Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said the police must also crackdown on drivers using mobile phones. “As per our law, even using phones through Bluetooth devices or earphones is not permitted as it causes mental distraction,” said Velmurugan.
The law mandates a hefty fine of Rs 1,000, for people using phones while driving. The Delhi Traffic Police, however, have booked just about 9,400 motorists for this offence in the last two years.
“Stringent penalties proposed in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill will further discourage people from flouting norms. But the police will need to replace their staff with technology for the system to work. The higher fines will mean more likelihood of corruption by traffic officers,” said PK Sarkar, professor at Department of Transport Planning in School of Planning and Architecture.
The traffic police, meanwhile, have also cracked the whip on another menace: illegal parking. At least 8 lakh motorists have been challaned in the first nine months of this year, a 70% jump in prosecutions when compared to 2016.
Velmurugan said the crackdown on illegal parking was a welcome move in a city that often chokes on traffic due to wrongly parked cars.
“This will reduce choke points. Residents are unlikely to bring out their vehicles if they know that it might be twoed for illegal parking. That is a major deterrent and will also help reduce air pollution,” said Velmurugan.
A traffic policeman, on condition of anonymity, said the average annual collection made by every traffic cop this year so far, matched their yearly wage.
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