Road safety experts have praised the Centre for bringing in changes to the Motor Vehicles Act, but urged it to implement hefty fines gradually, the Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.

Amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act came into force on September 1. The legislation aims to remove corruption, improve road safety and use technology to regulate traffic. It also enforces stricter penalties for road traffic violations.

“The recent amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act, which brought about a steep rise in fines for traffic violations, cannot be faulted, they must be commended,” International Road Federation President KK Kapila told the Hindustan Times. “But care should be taken that the fines are imposed gradually on traffic violators in the sense that if the increased range is from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000, the first year should be Rs 250, the second year should be Rs 500 and the third year should be Rs 1,000.”

He added that the Centre must create a corpus of fund from the money collected as fines so that it can be used for road safety in the future.

“For educating traffic violators and gradual fining, we suggest that the traffic police personal should carry self-inking rubber stamps in green, red and orange colour with road safety messages and warnings to be imprinted on challan copy,” lawyer and road safety activist Arun Mohan told the daily.

On the first day after the amended MV Act was implemented, 39,000 drivers were fined for several offences, including for triple-riding, breaking pollution norms, and having tampered number plates. Over the past week, the Gurugram traffic police fined a two-wheeler rider Rs 23,000 for flouting multiple rules, while an auto driver was fined Rs 47,500 for traffic violations in Bhubaneswar and a truck driver in Odisha’s Sambalpur district was fined Rs 86,500.

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Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that a partial relaxation will be in place for the next three months, during which time vehicle owners are expected to sort out their documents and keep them ready.

“The Chief Minister has expressed deep concern over the public resentment which has been reported from some parts of the state, particularly Bhubaneswar, on account of enforcement of the provisions of the recently amended MV Act,” a press release from the Chief Minister’s office said. “The CM has directed the enforcement agencies not to aggressively go on an overdrive but rather counsel and handhold the public to facilitate compliance with the amended provisions of MV Act.”

The state government is also expected to write to the Centre seeking a relaxation in the fines, which are perceived as being exorbitant. “The fine amounts are too high. We cannot change the central Act on our own. So we would write to the Centre about it,” Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said.

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