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Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Fine Deterrence?

Looking at the embarrassing overturning of the traffic police decision to reduce compound fines, it appears that some people are not aware of the authority given them.

Before a final decision is made to reduce fines, the government should examine why the fines were raised so steeply two years ago.

I believe it was made to get motorists to follow traffic laws more consistently and the number of accidents was very high.

If we examine present accident statistics the rate is still very bad.
Now we have a situation where thousands of motorists including Cabinet ministers simply to pay up even if the fines have been reduced as the privilege accorded to the ministers.

Perhaps this is the reason the police decided on their own to reduce the fines. If ministers can get discounts why not extend that benefit to all motorists who number in the thousands?

The basic cause of high road safety negligence is that laws are not strictly enforced on a continuous basis but more on a “as and when convenient basis”. So we have the usual high profile kick-off for the road safety campaign to suit the minister’s timetable 3 or 4 times a year.

After that the situation reverts to the normal anarchy on the roads and the following is envisaged:

 Many motorists break many laws
 The police catch a few
 Some decide to settle via unofficial means
 The police are not able to trace the offending motorists.

Until the next cycle of road safety.

One thing I’m sure about. Why did the police not just issue warrants for the recalcitrant ministers?
That would have sent the best message to the other motorists that they mean business.

I suggest the following to help reduce our accident rates:

 As excessive fines mean little if there is no enforcement right up to issuing warrants of arrest, reverting to the old rates will encourage more motorists to pay up. An analysis of pay-up rates for the old and new fines will show the direction we should be heading.

 The police must process unpaid summons faster like within a 2-month lapse after the summons remains unpaid.

 If the police cannot locate errant drivers they should be allowed to use “bounty hunters” to obtain the whereabouts of the wanted drivers. Use the Internet and have the name and IC number of the wanted drivers. Anyone except a police officer who provides the first correct location to enable them to arrest the errant driver will be paid RM20 or 10% of the compound fee which ever is lower.

Looking at our worsening traffic situation, it is like the last frontier akin to the Wild, Wild West except that instead of gunslingers we have motorists who use their lethal killing machines.

There is only limited personal freedom in Malaysia and few working adults engage in regular sports. Thus for many all our frustrations and stress are released by driving like a deranged monster. There is definitely a lot of aggression on our roads.

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