Will Maharashtra also slash hefty traffic fines?

Surabhi Puradbhat
Sunday, 15 September 2019

Everywhere we go these days, there’s only one talk of the town which is, ‘new traffic rules and hefty fines’ under the Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act which was passed recently.

Everywhere we go these days, there’s only one talk of the town which is, ‘new traffic rules and hefty fines’ under the Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act which was passed recently. Social media sites are flooded with memes on the same. After the new traffic rules came into effect from September 1, people from different parts of the country are raising voices against these rules. As per the new rules, the traffic violation penalty has been increased and violators would have to pay five times more the fine than before. 

However, now, the people are opposing the fines saying the fines are too much for their pockets. The funniest part is, people are ready to pay the fine if low, but they are not ready to follow the rules. 

For not wearing a helmet, the fine has been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000, the violators would have to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 for not wearing seat belts. A commuter’s licence will be suspended for three months and a fine of Rs 5,000 for driving without a licence.  

There have been cases recently when a challan of Rs 23,000 was issued to a two-wheeler rider for multiple violations in Gurugram, an autorickshaw driver in Bhubaneswar was fined a whopping Rs 47,500 for violating a slew of traffic rules under the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019. A truck driver was charged an amount of Rs 86,500 in Odisha and the funniest is a truck owner from Rajasthan had to pay a fine of Rs 1,41,700 for overloading his truck.

Now, the people have started rushing to get their insurances and PUCs done to avoid fines. Which is indeed a good step though.

Recently, Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways of India, said that even he was fined for over speeding in Mumbai. He has also recently said that the states are free to make changes in penalties. 

However, according to a national daily, the Gujarat government has slashed the new fines by up to 90%, citing humanitarian grounds. The Tamil Nadu government has also decided to bring down penalties under the new Act. With this, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh have decided to reduce the fines too. Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote has also requested the government to reconsider fines under Motor Vehicles act.

The question here is, will Maharashtra slash the fines too? Another question is, in a city like Pune, would people follow these laws? Recently, in a survey, it was mentioned that Pune has been ranked among the top five cities for traffic rule violations. Would these hefty fines bring a change in people’s mindset or would the people continue to pay fines and continue to not follow rules? The other day, I saw two traffic constables chatting with a person on a bike who was not wearing a helmet and since he was the constable’s friend, the person was not fined. The traffic woes in Pune just seem to increase every day. It is necessary that even the police should follow these rules. Recently, a police vehicle was stopped by people as the cops in the car were not wearing seat belts. What kind of example are the police setting now? 

The funniest part is, I just hope that the increased fine does not increase the bribe amount. Or else soon, people would give more bribe to traffic police to avoid hefty fines. As per the government, the recent hike in traffic fines is to avert road accidents. But are the roads in good condition in our country to avert accidents?

“Rules and fines are okay, but what is necessary is, if we are talking of safety, that roads should be maintained first. Every year during monsoon, there is so much of waterlogging everywhere, while you are walking it is so unsafe as you might trip in water-filled potholes,” said Deepti Pargaonkar who lives in Mumbai.  

Netra Aphale, who works for Tata Motors says that driving a long way is a task every day as people do not follow signals and speed limit. It was a necessary step that fines be increased so at least people would follow rules now and it would be less chaotic to drive while going to the office.

She also said that so many people lose their life in road accidents every year. At least for our own safety, the rules should be followed.

It is true that if the government wants to levy hefty fines, the condition of roads should be improved first. The government should show seriousness towards road safety and they levy these hefty fines.    

A few people feel that fines should be raised but to a certain limit. Increasing the fines so much would not help. People who have money can at least afford such fines, but the ones who do not have money, where would they pay fines from? Hence, the step taken by other States to reduce the fines too has been appreciated.

All done and said, safety is the most important thing and the government and people should only think of safety rather than making it debate or political issue. Wearing helmets, using seat belts or not drunk driving are not that big a deal and these are important for our own safety. I hope to see a day when there is minimal life loss due to road accidents. Only those who have lost the dear ones in road accidents would understand the importance.

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