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Wednesday , 24 May 2023

Making a strong point for Dbase of all Vehicles and Drivers

The revenue generated can be ploughed back in people and eco-friendly projects like bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, BRTS, high quality signages and safety systems. The mobile telephone industry in India manages the payment systems in an innovative and cost effective manner which is considered among the best in the world. It is virtually impossible for the owner of a vehicle not to have a telephone or an email id and a bank account. Appropriate changes must be made in the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) to facilitate the establishment of dbase, provision of CCTV systems and development of novel methods of collecting user fee for use of roads, flyovers and parking. By modifying the Motor Vehicle Registration Act, having a mobile, email id as well as an electronically operated bank account can be made mandatory for a vehicle owner.

Needless to say, adequate security/privacy has to be ensured so that such information is not sold to marketing companies which can harass the vehicle owners by sending unsolicited emails, smses or making calls to sell cars and loans. Yet, making the dbase powerful cannot be ignored. It is important to reach all the owners and make them accountable for hit and run or other traffic violation cases. In fact, if it is made possible to capture the errant drivers and their cars, trucks and buses through cameras and to automatically email the challans to the owners asking them to pay the fine directly into dedicated bank accounts, the effectiveness of the programme will increase and the cost of compliance will be brought down. This will ensure that there is no “settlement” corruption by avoiding very costly and inefficient interface. For this, every vehicle owner has to have a pre paid account from which the value of fines, parking charges and toll can be deducted. This will ensure the required fear among those who are prone to driving out of lanes, speeding as well as driving through red or amber lights, overtaking and parking at wrong places as they will know about high possibility of being apprehended. This fear will reduce the violation of bad driving drastically. This is the most important part of Dbase system and can increase revenue from user fee.

This will also ensure that all the vehicles have a valid registration and insurance. The violation of traffic rules will earn each vehicle and driver bad points and at any point of time, traffic police (or insurance regulator) will have an access to his/her “driving, accident, ownership and insurance record” on fingertips. The system safety features will ensure that people will have access on “a need to know” basis. For example, only insurance regulator will know whether a vehicle is insured or not and he will take appropriate steps to ensure that this weakness is corrected or fined.

The design, lettering, size and place to fix it (in the front or rear of a vehicle) can be standardised so that it can be easily captured by well placed video cameras and the data can be retrieved very expeditiously. In case of parking, perhaps traffic wardens can be used as they are equipped with a programmed camera which can send pictures of the car with number plate if it is parked at a place where a signage indicates the prohibition of parking at the spot. Based on the transmission of such a picture, the dbase can send the challan – first by email which will urge the owner to deposit the fine through his credit card or through a deposit in a designated account within a certain time period, failing which the level of his fine would go up (if the address is wrong, the fine or punishment must be higher!) This will ensure prompt payment of fine. Further, a camera wielding traffic warden will be able to capture several wrongly parked cars whereas a towing van can apprehend only one, and mostly, the last car offending the rule. Normally, when a towing van is in operation the drivers/owners of cars parked earlier get alerted and move to safer places. This system will stop that.

What can such a dbase achieve?

For a country which prides itself as an IT superpower, it would be shameful if a very sophisticated and powerful dbase for all vehicles is not maintained. The incidence of accidents in India is very high and traffic, most indisciplined! Use of dbase and electronics can be very effective in controlling these. Besides, unlike flyovers, sea links and expressways, this project will more than pay for itself. When India’s mobile telephone companies can achieve spectacular heights of success in a period of only ten years, there is no reason why dbase and electronics for vehicles, drivers & traffic security and safety management cannot be developed and used. Besides capturing large and missing revenues for the government, the bigger benefits are the improvement in traffic safety and bringing in discipline through deterrence in the minds of drivers/owners of vehicles. They will soon begin to realise that wrong parking or wrong driving would surely attract the attention of a high tech and highly vigilant system which can’t be beaten.

By insisting on people to provide the information on night parking, it would be easier to tighten the rules regarding the use of roads for parking in the day and at nights. One of the most important uses of such a system is getting precise fee for road use – for driving as well as parking. This will ensure traffic restraints and enable us to work towards sustainable traffic management.

Ashok Datar
Mumbai Environmental
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