With the recent amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act, the traffic regulations have become more stringent, posing heavy challans in case of violations. MUSBA HASHMI tells you how the increased fines have brought in rich results
Poorly maintained roads with potholes and open manholes, a traffic signal which always has a red light on, zebra crossing occupied by a colossal amount of vehicles, pedestrian crossing the road from wherever and whenever they wish to and an empty traffic police stand is a day-to-day visual for the daily commuters in India. Amidst all this chaos, the new challan regulations come as a boon for some and a bane for others.
Under the new regulations, the fines have increased manifold. For general offences, the previous fine was Rs 100 which now is Rs 500. For driving without licence, the fine was Rs 500 and has now increased to Rs 5,000, for no seat belt it was Rs 100 and now Rs 1,000, for over-speeding it was Rs 400 and has now increased to Rs 1,000 and many more. This massive increase show that our country has started taking the traffic laws seriously which were earlier ignored. The new rules are definitely improving the traffic conditions if not immediately changing it for the better.
Sri Ravindra Kumar Vashishth, Traffic Incharge, Noida says that the amendments in the act has brought in rich results. “The traffic conditions have improved in Noida. Now, people hesitate in standing on the zebra crossing, they wear seat belts and never skip a red light even if there are no policemen standing on the road,” he says.
He tells you that the CCTV cameras have been deployed almost everywhere in Noida, including the Yamuna Expressway.
Since the fines have been increased, people have started coming up with more excuses to get away with the challan, but Vashishth says that law is law and there is no escape from it. “We come across people making different excuses for instance some say that ‘hum toh hamesha paper apney sath rakhtey hain aaj bhul gaye sir’ or hamarey ghar mein koi beemar hai iss baar chor do sir’. But, the law is law and no one can escape it. If someone is guilty of violating the rules then we have to abide by the law and punish him,” he tells you.
Mohammad Imran, Founder, Safe Road Foundation who has conducted various researchs on roads and signages says that the Government’s step of increasing the fines is commendable but there is much more that the Government should do.
“Some people are of the opinion that keeping in mind the condition of the roads, increasing the fines is not a great idea. But I am of a different opinion. Out of all the deaths that happen on roads, only 3,000 are because of the bad condition and almost a lakh are a result of road accidents. The reason being lack of trained drivers.
“Many of us have learnt driving from our family members, some has learnt it on their own and only a handful have gone to a driving school. This is why we only know the basics of driving and not how to drive properly. Many of us don’t even understand the meaning of various signages. Even a lot of driving schools don’t have trained drivers. All they do is to teach you how to work the clutch, accelerator, gear and brake. That’s all. They don’t know about the signages themselves. Here the need is to train drivers and create awareness about road safety. There should be a proper training course for the driving schools employees. The Government should keep a check on these driving schools that claim to teach driving in a matter of 20-25 days and are present in every nook and corner. Many people don’t even know the purpose of the zebra crossing. All this needs to be taught to the people and then only these challans could bring about any change,” he says.
The leniency in issuing driving licence is also a matter of concern. “In India, anyone can get a driving license. There are no stringent rules and no proper tests conducted. This also becomes one of the reasons why there are so many untrained drivers on the roads,” he says. He tells you that the e-challan system will not bring in the desired results.
“The purpose of imposing fines or issuing challans is to prevent people from violating the traffic rules and thereby preventing accidents. But, these e-challans just serve the purpose of fining people and earning money. If a person is speeding without realising it, the cameras will click a photo and send the e-challan to him via a message. But, unfortunately if he meets with an accident then the purpose of issuing challans gets nullified. The better way here is to issue the challans manually. The policemen should stop the violators and hand over the challans to them. This will bring in the realisation in people that they should drive within the permissible speed limit otherwise they can get fined,” he tells you.
To make the new traffic laws effective, the mindset of the people has to change. “Many people know that they should wear a helmet but they don’t citing various reasons including yahin paas mein toh ja rahey hain, koi policewala nahin hoga or that they feel uncomfortable in helmets. Same goes for seat belts. This has to change. We have to become disciplined. It has to be done on a grassroot level. The parents and schools should teach children the importance of helmets and road safety measures. Many students drive to school without having a driving license and when you take this matter to the school staff all they say is that they are only concerned about what is happening inside the school premises, ‘school ke bahar bachcha kese aa raha hai yeh hamara concern nahin hai’ is the take. This thought process has to change. Each one of us has to take the responsibility and then only any law can be successful,” he says.
Advocate Pooja Sareen is of the opinion that such high fines will not do any good but will be a bane for the common man who is already burdened with a lot of taxes and debts.
“The Government should first focus on building better and safe roads that are free from potholes and rectify the current infrastructure. In the wake of such bad roads, the increased fines are nothing less than a burden on the common man. It come as a death blow. At times, the fines are way more than the actual cost of the vehicle. How can one expect that people are in a position to pay such heavy fines?,” Sareen asks.
Yogesh, a private cab driver for more than 12 years now and drives all over Delhi-NCR says that the traffic seems to have come under control since the new Motor Vehicles Act came into effect from September 1, 2019.
“People have become more conscious while driving now. Even the other cab drivers think twice before stopping in the middle of the road to drop off the passengers. The fine of causing obstruction in the free flow of traffic can now lead to a penalty of Rs 500 which was only Rs 50 earlier. This has reduced the unnecessary jams that often occur on busy roads. These stringent laws will definitely help ensure smooth movement of traffic thereby eliminating any risks of accidents and road rages,” he say. He was fined Rs 2,000 for over-speeding a few days back.
“I was driving with a speed of 53 kmph and the speed limit in the area was 50 kmph. I was issued a challan and I paid it. I could have taken up the matter and debated on it but I chose to pay it instead so that I can drive more responsibly from now. I am satisfied with the increment in the fines because it has brought positive results and people have started taking these traffic laws seriously,” he says.
Due to the new traffic laws, people have also started wearing helmets in the areas where no body ever wore a helmet before.
“In areas like Mayur Vihar Phase 3, Dilshad Garden and others only a handful of people wore helmets before but now almost 60 per cent people have started wearing their helmets,” he tells you. He highlights that the main reason of traffic jams is the e-rickshaws and the drivers who are associated with online cab booking apps.
“These people drive carelessly. The e-rickshaw drivers are fearless because they know that nothing can happen to their vehicle and they drive as if they own the road. This causes a lot of trouble for the other commuters. The online cab booking app drivers also create a lot of nuisance on the roads because they are fully dependent on the maps. Once their device stops working they stand in the middle of the road and decide which way to go next. The Government should cancel the licence of such irresponsible drivers and they should only be issued another driving licence after a proper driving test. There should be a programme every six months to assess the driver’s professionalism and failing which should result in cancellation of the licence. Timely training on road safety measures should also be given to the drivers. This way the traffic will reduce and the roads can get rid of untrained drivers,” he opines.
Another cab driver, Hari Om says that the new traffic rules is causing certain problems to the cab drivers as there is no proper drop point or stand where they can drop off the passengers.
“In most of the places, there are no proper cab stopping points, also the passengers request to drop them at the exact location. They are not willing to walk even 20-30 steps. In such situations the cab drivers become helpless and they have to stop the cab at improper places as per the passengers request. Now, this is leading us to challans as much as Rs 500 which is difficult to pay as we are hardly earning more than Rs 2,000-Rs 2,500 per day. So the Government should first focus on providing us with the proper infrastructure and then should impose such heavy fines,” he says.
Is it worth breaking rules?
Rs 23,000 challan for scooter worth Rs 15,000
A Delhi-based man Dinesh Madan was fined Rs 23,000 for violating various traffic rules.
Madan was stopped in Gurugram for not wearing a helmet. The police asked him to show his documents, failing which he was asked to pay the huge fine for different violations and his vehicle was impounded.
Madan was given 10 minutes to produce the documents, which he couldn’t because he is a resident of Delhi and was stopped in Gurugram.
He was fined Rs 5,000 for driving without licence, Rs 5,000 for not carrying the registration certificate, Rs 2,000 for driving without insurance, Rs 10,000 for violating pollution laws and Rs 1,000 for driving without helmet. The cumulative fine for all the traffic rules' violation was Rs 23,000.
He decided to surrender the impounded vehicle as he claimed that his second-hand scooter cost only Rs 15,000.
Now, helmet in car
In yet another bizarre incident, Piyush Varshney from Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh was sent an e-challan of Rs 500 for not wearing a helmet while driving a four wheeler.
Varshney says that the challan sent clearly stated his car number and reason for the penalty imposed.
In protest of the incident, Varshney has now started wearing a helmet while driving his car.
He says that such incidents are going to set a poor example for the common man as they will not take the traffic laws seriously.
Aligarh police has said that if the challan is found to be false and the verification number is wrong, they will rectify the situation and will cancel it immediately.
However, these cases are enough to sow the seed of doubt in the minds of the people for the system. Such mistakes not only mar the image of the police but also give rise to a number of questions.
Truck driver fined Rs 1.41 lakh
On September 5, 2019 a Rajasthan truck driver was fined Rs 1.41 lakh in Delhi for overloading and violation of registration certificate and permit rules under the new Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.
The owner, Harman Ram Bhambhu, who hails from Bikaner said that his driver went to Delhi to deliver sillica sand to a costumer when he was fined and the truck was seized by the Delhi police.
It took him five days to arrange the money and only then the vehicle was released.
Bhambhu said that the police fined him Rs 20,000 for first one tonne and Rs 2,000 for every additional tonne, making it Rs 48,000. And Rs 10,000 each for RC and permit violations. This made it Rs 70,800. The owner was also fined the same amount, making a total of Rs 1,41,600.
Earlier on September 3, a truck driver from Odissa was fined Rs 86,500.
Photos: Ranjan Dimri