Mumbai: 15,000 motorists drove dangerously this year, reveals RTI query
RTI query by mid-day reveals shocking 700 per cent increase in collection of fines by the traffic dept for using mobile phones when driving, in last 3 years
While the Mumbai Traffic Police may have left no stone unturned warning motorists about the risks of using mobile phones when at the wheel, a Right To Information (RTI) query, that was filed by this newspaper, has revealed that the amount of fines that the police have collected for the breach has increased seven-fold in just three years.
A motorist seen talking on the phone while riding his two-wheeler. Representation pic
Between January and September this year, the traffic police department collected a total of R30 lakh as fine, which is 700 per cent more than R3.78 lakh they collected in 2015.
The trend is disturbing, because the Traffic Police has been investing a lot of manpower and money on social media campaigns and public hoardings to caution motorists against speaking on the phone while driving. Currently, as per Section 250 A MMVR/177 of the Motor Vehicle Act, the traffic police slap a measly fine of R200 for talking on the phone.
According to the RTI query filed by this newspaper, in 2015, the traffic police collected around R3.78 lakh as fine. If one divides this figure with the fine amount of R200, an approximate number of 1,890 people appear to have been penalised during that year. The fine collection snowballed to R11.72 lakh a year later in 2016. This year, however, it peaked by 700 per cent with R30 lakh being collected from nearly 15,300 motorists.
Road safety experts have expressed concern over this development. Ashutosh Atre from Road Safe Foundation said, "The rate at which the number of people being fined for talking on the phone while driving is increasing, is a cause for worry. Despite all the efforts, I think that the government hasn’t been able to create effective awareness campaigns. Also, authorities should come up with more stringent punishments to prevent people from breaking the law."
A senior traffic police official, who did not wish to be named, admitted that there has been a dramatic increase in the fines collected from people using mobile phones when driving. "We have been regularly appealing to motorists against risking their lives and that of others. Our traffic police constables ensure that offenders do not go scot-free."
When contacted, Amitesh Kumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic) said he would only comment after looking into the case.
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