Steep penalties introduced in the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is turning out to be a bitter pill for people, who have had gotten used to getting away cheaply for a wide range of traffic violations. News stories about huge penalties are continuously pouring in, something that people in this country have never experienced before.
Some penalties imposed since September 1, 2019 are more than the offender’s monthly income, which presents a perplexing question for all stakeholders. In just four days since the new rules were enforced, a whopping Rs 1.41 crore has been collected from traffic offenders in Haryana and Odisha alone.
According to data provided by Odisha Motor Vehicles Department, Rs 88.90 lakh has been collected from 4,080 challans issued for traffic violations in the last four days. 46 vehicles have also been seized as part of the new rules. In Haryana, a total of 343 challans were issued and total penalties collected were Rs 52.32 lakh. In Delhi, a total of 3,900 challans were issued on first day itself.
The new rules have divided the citizens as there are supporters as well as people who are opposing the steep penalties. The provision for jail term for specific traffic violations has also received criticism from certain groups. The objective of the new rules seems reasonable though, as traffic conditions in the country are among the worst in the world.
India reports around 5 lakh road accidents every year, one of the highest in the world. In these accidents, around 3 lakh people suffer serious injuries and approximately 1.5 lakh people die every year.
For driving despite disqualification and not giving way to emergency vehicles, penalty is Rs 10,000. Other penalties include dangerous driving (Rs 5,000), drunken driving (Rs 10,000), over speeding (Rs 1,000-2,000), driving without insurance (Rs 2,000), driving without helmet (Rs 1,000 and license suspension for three months), disobedience of authorities (Rs 5,000), overloading of vehicles (Rs 20,000), violation of license conditions by cab aggregators (Rs 1 lakh), driving without license (Rs 5,000), unauthorized use of vehicle (Rs 5,000), and general traffic violations (Rs 500).
Government is hopeful that steep penalties and provision for jail term will work as an effective deterrent and help save lives. Compensation for death is now Rs 5 lakh and for grievous injury, Rs 2.5 lakh. The states are also planning to introduce compounding of offences, which means that repeat offenders will have to pay an even higher penalty for traffic violations.