Traffic fines based on social media plaints triple since 2018 in Delhi
Fines issued by the traffic police with the help of citizens who shared photographs of violations with their social media accounts has touched a new high, data accessed by Hindustan Times shows. In the first six months of the year, at least 31,124 fines were issued on the basis of citizens reporting traffic violations on the traffic police’s Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp accounts. In comparison, only 10,009 such fines were issued last year. The number was even lesser the year before that, at around 8,000.
Last year, the traffic police personnel on the roads had issued 64.8 lakh fines, while in 2017 the number was 56.7 lakh.
Apart from common violations such as riding two-wheeler without helmets, the traffic police have effectively used the three social media platforms to spot violations such as cars parked on pavements, at no-parking spots, or cars using defective number plates. Police said the citizens sending photographs makes it credible proof of the violation. While citizens send more than 300-400 complaints a day, traffic police officers said the photographs are, on occasion, unclear or the complaint incomplete.
The traffic police social media handle has over 1.1 million followers on Twitter, and 2.73 lakh followers on Facebook.
“Photographs of vehicles at no-parking spots with corresponding signboards near the vehicle has become one of the most-reported complaints. Many times, people forget to send the location of the parked vehicle, but when they do, our teams issue fines. Photographs of people riding without a helmet are also a common complaint we receive,” a senior police officer said.
This year, till June 30, at least 15,185 challans were issued for riding without a helmet. “Many of them were also police personnel spotted riding without a helmet,” another officer said.
Apart from sending photographs, residents have also sent videos of auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers refusing to charge fares as per the meter or government rates. Police fined over 600 such taxi and auto drivers for harassing passengers, based on video evidence. The chief of the traffic police and special commissioner of police Taj Hasan said, “ We encourage citizens to send complaints on social media. Public participation is very important . We also need their feedback.”
A team of around 40 officers at the Todarpur traffic police office work around-the-clock to check the three social media accounts — a unit known within the traffic police as the Public Interface Unit. Apart from issuing fines and replying to queries on the three social media accounts, the team also sends updates about traffic congestion throughout the day. Police officers there also monitor Google Maps and send updates according to the same. Only tech-savvy officers fluent in English and who write well are chosen to reply on behalf of the traffic police.
“We also hold social media training sessions for the officers, to make sure they are up-to-date with the trends in social media. The last such session was held in January. Additionally, we may increase the strength of the unit in the coming months,” a senior police officer said.