Home Ministry Proposes Technology-Driven Measures for Road Safety

The Home Ministry’s proposals, including body and dashboard cameras, will help eradicate not only traffic violations but also corruption among police on the roads.

An "Automatic Number Plate Recognition" camera. Credit: Flickr

An “Automatic Number Plate Recognition” camera. Credit: Flickr

Following the model of several developed countries, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has proposed that police officers wear body cameras and police vehicles be fitted with dashboard cameras, in order to enhance the monitoring of traffic offences and vehicular movement and make roads safer. It has also suggested that a Traffic Fund be created for financing such infrastructure projects.

The MHA made these suggestions at a meeting of a group of ministers earlier created by the central government to guide reforms for the road transport sector. It has demanded that the dashboard and body cameras be installed promptly, subject to budget availability.

It has further suggested that “Special Police Officers” take photographs and videos of traffic violations, and that private citizens be empowered to help eradicate violations, by being allowed to upload photographs and videos of violations on traffic police websites.

If the MHA’s proposals are approved, they will help eradicate not only traffic violations but also corrupt practices by police officers on the roads. Police personnel would have to think twice before taking bribes, since cameras linked through the Global Positioning System would be monitoring and recording all their movements.

The MHA has stressed the use of technology because a major hike has been proposed in penalties for traffic offences, and it does not want the new high fines to become a tool in the hands of the police to extort money from traffic violators.

In order to further decrease the likelihood of corruption, the MHA has also suggested that only traffic police personnel of the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector or higher be allowed to check for violations and impose penalties. And to prevent offenders from unnecessarily contesting penalties, it has called for higher fines for frivolous challenges.

“The Committee is conscious of the fact that with enhancement of penalties there is a strong likelihood of increased corruption among enforcement agencies. It is hence proposed [sic] to empower only a certain category of officers to impose penalties and over a certain time frame have a mechanism in place to document all activities of the enforcement agencies to ensure transparency,” the Ministry said.

The United States is currently evaluating the use of body cameras, in response to complaints of police personnel using excessive force.

Traffic Fund

To ensure the funds needed for the proposed infrastructure, the MHA has demanded that a section for the creation of a Traffic Fund be incorporated in the Motor Vehicles Act. It has pointed, as an example that justifies its suggestion, to the provision that exists in the Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Act for the National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse.

It has suggested that the Traffic Fund be created from governmental contribution, 50% of fines collected, sale proceeds of seized vehicles, and other income, such as that earned through corporate social responsibility, provided it is approved by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

The fund will allow for the purchase of body and dashboard cameras, closed circuit television camera systems, automatic number plate recognition cameras, traffic app-enabled smartphones and bluetooth penalty devices, as well as be used for the development of traffic-related apps, road signs and dividers, and for compensating enforcement personnel in case of injury or loss of life during duty.