Find ways to make amended Motor Vehicles Act work
The Gujarat government move to reduce fines by 25-90% on 17 traffic offences under the amended Motor Vehicles Act opens the floodgates for similar actions by other states. Already at least a dozen states have not notified the new Act fearing backlash from residents. The new motor vehicles legislation was a progressive attempt at reform by the central government which updated monetary penalties set several years ago that had lost their bite.
Admittedly, there is a rich-poor divide in the country and the financial capacity of each person to pay a fine varies. Further, some traffic officials have acted overzealously imposing monetary fines for multiple traffic violations which adds up to astronomical sums for individuals. This can have a counterproductive effect and gives the law a bad name.
The law can be amended to state that monetary penalty can be imposed for only one violation while the other violations will be recorded and penalised if repeated. Alongside imposing fines the new law also places responsibilities on authorities to improve road conditions. It is natural for citizens to question why they are taxed heavily for dysfunctional traffic lights, potholed roads and unscientific road design. So the state also has to up its game.
Citizens must understand that traffic laws are not to be trifled with and violators will have to pay dearly. Statistics like 4.64 lakh accidents causing 1.5 lakh accident deaths and injuries to nearly five lakh persons cannot be taken lightly. Governments must find ways to streamline the implementation of the Act.