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Analyzing Traffic Police's spot fine system

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I am told that developed countries do not have this system of spot fines. We do - and I guess that low levels of automation would be one reason we have this in place - sub-inspector or above can issue challans and levy spot fines. In the ideal, automated world, where RTO and traffic police would have integrated database linking vehicle registration numbers, addresses and driving licenses, constables and above would just note down the violators, and rash drivers would get tickets in email.

Traffic cop 2Constables can't levy spot fines, thats why we see them with pen and paper in hand - They note down violations they spot and send it up to their seniors. I think its called FTVR - field traffic violation report.

Now that Traffic Police is claiming increased levels of automation - is it time to let go of the spot fine system? Isn't this the 'real deal' that encourages on-field corruption - of various kind - like fine without a real receipt, amount inconsistent with the violation recorded in the ticket, etc.

Lets play some number games, obviously, with lot of assumptions to get some sense of the volumes here.

  • 1800 traffic cops. Let us assume that 1500 of them are involved directly (spot fine) or indirectly (field report passed to seniors for action) in the acts of enforcement.
  • 1500 folks wont be doing just enforcement all day, let us assume they spend 4 hours a day, 25 days a month.
  • 1500 x 25 x 4 = 150000 enforcement hours a month.
  • Assume 2 violations are spotted each enforcement hour .
  • We get 150000 * 2 = 3 lakh tickets/ month. Spreading over a month (30 days), we are talking 10000 tickets/day.

Now, lets double check with stats shared by Bangalore Traffic Police. Their website is getting better by the day, more information, and regular updates, great job there BTP!

Quoting from http://www.bangaloretraff..., let us look only at M.V. Act cases. (MV Act = Motor Vehicles Act = simple language - on road driving time fines)

  • 2007 - 13.5 lakh ~ 1.2 lakh tickets/month
  • 2008 - 18 lakh ~ 1.5 lakh/ month.
  • 2009 - 4.8 lakh till march ~ 1.6 lakh/month

So the good news first - they are improving, about 20-30% each year, without big increase in manpower count. It could be either due to better automation, or improved per person productivity. The bad (questionable call, based on so many assumptions) news - the numbers should be better. Could they?

Spot fines take time (haggling), thus lowering productivity - cops would spot fewer violations per hour. And, spot fines encourage corruption. No spot fines mean it would be easier to spot corruption - you see wallet and money, you know what could be happening. Such clarity would discourage spot haggling incidents.

Is it time to put the focus solely on enforcement automation (after all, this area is seeing lot of investments) by getting rid of the spot fine system?

[Important Note: I will edit this post as and when I am made aware of bad assumptions and statistical errors. Don't criticize, correct the numbers, because we got to have some quantitative way of measuring traffic police's performance]


zenrainman's picture

Way to go

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 Since I mostly take the bus, this is a nice theoreticl argument :) which I would thoroughly enjoy without being personally biased.

Automation I say.

silkboard's picture

stats could tell you performance and corruption

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I had the write up sitting on my desktop for a month. I was afraid to post for two reasons. 1) Assumptions would get attacked 2) Mr Sood and his men would laugh so bad if the number and logic look insane :)

But, after doing the numbers, when I checked with stats on BTP website (I swear, I didn't work the assumptions backward), they didn't look that far off. That made me go ahead and post.

May be 1500 people are not directly/indirectly involved in enforcement. But then, the 2 violations per enforcement-hour is too low a count. So the aggressive and conservative assumptions can even things up.

Anyway. I wish we could develop such statistical measures on top of regular and reliable data. Then, we can "measure" Traffic Police's performance. After all, police, and media are the only two entities in our country whose performances nobody dares to track :)

We could get an idea of the amount of "corruption" as well. Let us try some numbers again.

  • Crude numbers above tell you that there could be up to 1.5 lakh violations a month that are spotted but not reported. Assume these are "pocketed".
  • 4.8 lakh tickets have produced Rs 6.5 Crores in 2009. So avg amount collected per ticket is about Rs 150.
  • In case of "pocketed" violations, the amount would be lower, lets say Rs 50.
  • Size of "corruption" would then be:1.5 lakh x 50 = Rs 75 lakhs/month

How does this number look? Too high, or too low!?


srinidhi's picture

Mindless Fines..

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Talking of fines..find the list used by the BTP opportunistic..

--Talking on mobiles..talking on hands free and talking on blue tooth attracts higher fines. HIgher fines for the privileged? What are they trying to do they will say they will check on arguments you have with your co-passengers !

--Emmission rules..give me one example of a two wheeler/car which has been really caught violating the actual pollution norms? Bikes have an official limit that even busses can pass..still not having a certificate attracts a fine..when we all know that people can easily pay and get a certificate!

Pranav, request to take ure numbers along with thoughts on fines to Mr Sood and get his thoughts...

silkboard's picture

Can't talk corruption with them

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Its not something that people want to discuss readily, nobody wants to go on record with details of their estimates on size and extent of specific example of corruption like this.

Look, we all know one thing - corruption will stay, it can never go away. And contrary to what many think, I don't think everyone is corrupt out there (in traffic police department for instance). May be the number is 30-40% (pure guess, based on what I have 'overheard' around). The crime that the other 60% clean guys do is - put up with the rest 40% and let it happen.

There is no easy direct way to fight corruption. Supply = demand, as simple as it gets.

But structural measures like letting go of spot fines, eliminating cash transactions, introducing annual vehicle registration system so that vehicle owner addresses are kept current (to support automation of enforcement system), legal process to challenge accusations of traffic violation, admission of citizen taken pictures and videos or anonymous content as evidence - there are ideas a round.

No ground breaking thouhgts all these. Officers like Mr Sood etc are smarter than you and me (mee them, and you will realize this), sharp enough to think ot much better structural measures. But they are either short on time, or short on incentives to take these initiatives, or afraid of taking on this few crores a month business (my estimate of Rs 75 lakhs a month is low, I have been told). They would have their reasons.

Fair enough, all this is easier said than done. I only want to size and track the extent of corruption, and its inversely proportional relationship with enforcement performance of Traffic Police/

idontspam's picture

Ethics in govt

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Ethical behaviour in govt and public life needs to be given more importance. It is the mental make up of people that will change this behaviour. It is the same with innefiiciency and quality of life as well.

We as people should not be satisfied and tolerant with poor and corrupt service delivery and pathetic infrastructure. We need to demand better and also ensure our own behaviour enables such demands to be met effectively. comment guidelines

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