Increased fines

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


THERE is a game that drivers, traffic enforcers and fines for traffic violations appear to be playing among themselves. I do not know how this game actually go, but this was told to me a by a taxi driver whose unit I rode in from the office to the Ayala terraces where I had an appointment last Friday. He said he was in a quandary trying to decide whether to join or not the strike reportedly set for last Monday.

I told him that it is unfortunate since it will be the commuters like me who would likely suffer. And that was when he told me that big fines imposed would only spawn more graft and corruption, even if that is not what the goal is in imposing larger fines.

On the way to Ayala, he told me interesting realities about their situation. He said that they are pinned down with their kind of livelihood. There are penalties for various violations.

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“Aron ka masayod, boss, ang multa gikan sa P100 ngadto sa P5,000, depende sa klase sa violation. (So you will know, boss, the fine goes up from P100 to P5,000, depending upon the kind of violation.) I found out that these traffic sins include the so-called the simple parking on the wrong lane, traffic obstruction, defective vehicle lights or absence of front or back lights, faulty break, etc. Each traffic infraction, it seems, carries a fine,

Now, if this is true, I wonder why the rather harsh increase of the fines. I am sure that politics is not, and I repeat not, involved in this as a motive.

The only rationale behind it is to impose some kind of discipline. That is, make them very careful in their driving, and avoid being caught committing a violation. In this way, even our courts would be a happy beneficiary with less court cases to hear, and less expense for our government.

Like in the United States, according to my son Raul when he was in California and driving, he was caught with a traffic violation and was fined.

Many months later, he moved east to New Jersey where his mother was working as a caregiver. Deciding to work, he bought a second hand car but which was still in good condition, for only $300. Then he had it registered. He was surprised that he had to pay $500 for insurance.

When his traffic record was looked into, his California violation was discovered. It seems that for traffic violation one commits, his car insurance increases. Well, that is in the US.

Back to our country, a friend wonders if increasing the fine for traffic violation will work. He said what will stop the driver and the traffic enforcer to talk things over, to avoid the cost of litigation and the hassle to them.

If the fine is P1,000, the driver and the traffic enforcer could agree to forget it.

Or the driver just forks over P500 and forget about the violation. Or, if the fine costs more, say, P2000, then we can haggle for an equitable agreement on the amount to settle the issue and avoid the court or spending time in court.

The point is, between the driver and the enforcer, things could be settled at the least cost. So the traffic accident is settled. Next?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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