Mr Nitin Gadkari is set to lose all his popularity he had gained in the last few years for his work as a minister over his quixotic decision of raising traffic fines to astronomical levels.
While creating deterrence against drunken driving, rash driving etc are necessary, across the board increase of fines such as for not wearing helmet or not wearing seat belts etc was unwarranted.
The traffic offences have to be ideally classified into two important categories. Offences that endanger third parties and offences which affect only the individual vehicle user for his safety. Helmet and seat belts fall in this category. Penalties have to be less for the second category since it is only to promote own safety and has no impact on others.
The non maintenance of roads leading to potholes and consequential accidents should be held as traffic offences by the civic bodies and they should be fined at a larger level because their negligence affects the community as a whole. Similarly, invisible signs of no parking, non working traffic lights etc also cause problems to those who are essentially followers of law.
In the last two days there are reports of one fine of Rs 87500/- on a Truck driver and Rs 47500/- on an Auto driver. Not withstanding the crime, these fines are insane. Mr Gadkari should bear the direct responsibility for such a situation and be answerable to the voters in Maharashtra. Shivasena should have a cakewalk in the elections if they make this MV act as an election issue.
I have always held that such crazy levels of fine will only increase the corruption level in the Police. It is early days and Police may be now accounting the fines and the department is increasing its revenue by a few lakhs each day in major towns. Soon the fine collection will start stagnating and getting converted into bribes to the Police. Police will pass on a part of their loot to the politicians also and therefore the corrupt system will grow with political patronage.
Instead of targeting the consumers by increasing the fines, I want Mr Nitin Gadkari to do some thing that is beneficial to the road users. One such requirement is to check the Toll booth contracts many of which should have ended over time but are continuing without any maintenance of the roads. Recently, I had an occasion to travel in the Nice Road in Bangalore towards Magadi and found the road full of pot holes just like the City roads. One wonders why we need to pay any fees for such roads. Is not the Transport ministry responsible for these?
Some time back some ill informed politicians in Karnataka went against Uber and Ola and taxed them as Taxi operators, which resulted in increase of the rentals for the consumer. Similarly these fines will also increase the Uber/Ola rates since the companies have to factor this fine as part of the regular expense. The truck operators would also factor some fines in their cost and the cost of goods transport will also go up.
Mr Nitin Gadkari will be solely responsible for this increase in transport related costs.
Vehicle Insurance should include Traffic Fines
While these criticisms are well known and understood by all except the egoistic politicians who donot want to correct their mistakes, the main purpose of writing this article is to bring it to the notice of Mr Gadkari and others including Mr Modi that there is an urgent need to introduce a component of “Insurance against Traffic fines” as part of vehicle insurance.
Since the new fines have the effect of “Deterrence”, accidents will come down (Should come down). This should reduce vehicle insurance claims. Insurance companies should be therefore persuaded to reduce the insurance premium on all existing policies.
Additionally the Traffic Fine endorsement should be provided at an extra premium.
Insurance companies today provide such covers for administrative fines under say GDPR or even the Extortion under ransomware. If these are acceptable as insurable risks, why not traffic fines?
I would like IRDAI to engage in discussions with the Insurance companies to quickly introduce the coverage on such fines.
If Mr Gadkari is still walking on the ground, he should push the insurance companies into providing such insurance coverage besides reducing the fines on “Non Third Party Risk Creating offences” to a reasonable level.
I wish a petition is raised in this regard by some public interested person.