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Spot-fine system will tame madness on roads

The plan to introduce an automated spot-fine system to catch drivers who dodge traffic offences should be applauded.

The system will help the police trace traffic offenders with outstanding fines.

Without a centralised system, many drivers have developed a cavalier attitude towards spot-fines.

They know the police do not have proper records to track offenders.

The haphazard records have allowed many offenders to go unpunished.

The new system will change that by maintaining proper records that will be accessed by officers from all districts.

But we believe that an automated spot-system will not go very far in reducing the carnage on our roads.

It will make people pay the small fines but will not deter people from driving recklessly.

The madness on our roads will not stop because a few fine dodgers have been cornered into paying.

The collection of fine will improve but road users will still be at the mercy of reckless drivers.

This is because our roads are not well policed.

What we have are ad hoc roadblocks that only serve to temporarily scare drivers before they get back to their old bad ways.

The fear of being caught speeding rescinds as soon as one leaves the road blocks.

It will be an entirely different matter if our roads had speed cameras which serve as a constant reminder to the drivers that they are being watched and they will be punished if they violate the law.

More police officers mounting speed-traps on the roads would also help bring delinquent drivers in line.

Yet even cameras and speed-traps will not do much if they are not supported by adequate punishment against offenders.

For years the fine for minor traffic offences has remained at a measly M30.

These fines were introduced more than 30 years ago when M30 was worth much more than it is today.

So a fine that was severe three decades ago is now a mere slap on the wrist for offenders.

The purpose of a fine is to deter would-be offenders.

Research has shown that the biggest deterrent to crime is the fear of being caught and punishment.

The same applies on the roads.

If you know you are going to face a heavy fine for speeding you are most likely to drive within the speed-limit.

That is why it is important to review the fines so that offenders feel the impact of their actions.

There are also other ways to deal with repeat traffic offenders apart from fines.

Endorsement of licences has worked well in countries like South Africa and Britain.

Drivers are more likely to behave well on the roads if they know that they risk losing their licences when they are reckless on the road.

In Britain, for instance, a driver loses points on their licence for some traffic offences.

Once they have reached a certain number of points they will lose their licence for some time.

That way drivers know that apart from fines they can also lose the privilege to drive if they repeatedly violate the law.

The point is that you cannot deal with traffic offenders using one method.

A system that makes it easy to collect fines is crucial but it needs to be supported by other initiatives to deal with traffic offenders.

The idea is not to collect more fines but to curb reckless drivers.

Better a system that hits offenders hard in the pocket and makes it even harder for them to dodge the fines.

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