Question Of Whether Traffic Fines Should Be Pegged To Price Of Car Sparks Huge Debate

Image: Tang Yan Song / Shutterstock.com

I‘m sure that we’ve all seen our fair share of drivers who make us wonder how they ever passed their driving test.

And being the salty poor people we are, we sort of also tend to stereotype these drivers as the ones who drive BMWs or Mercedes.

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Maybe you’ve had such a conversation before.

“Eh walao, drive until like that still drive BMW?”

“Aiya, rich people mah. All cannot drive properly one.”

“Hope he kena fine sia.”

“Kena fine so what? Not like he cannot pay.”

I guess that begs the question:

Should traffic fines be pegged to the value of a car?

This question sparked a heated debate amongst various motorists and traffic analysts after a nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Walter Theseira suggested it in Parliament on Monday (8 July).

He believed that having luxury car owners pay higher fines would improve the fine penalty system, and that “it is reasonable to assume that the driver of a large luxury car is able to pay more than one driving a cheaper vehicle, and would likely regard the demerit points and other consequences of an offence as far more serious than the value of the fine itself”.

Dr Theseira also argued that fines needed to be made more deterring to motorists of a higher-income level without being unreasonable for the lower-income.

Pegging fines is discriminatory?

However, based on a census conducted by TODAY, most people feel opposed to such a penalty system.

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Most of them feel that such a system is discriminatory and is “not very fair” to have different penalties for the same offence.

They also felt that allowing such a system sets a dangerous precedent for other laws and penalties.

Dr Lee Der-Horng, a transport researcher from the National University of Singapore (NUS), argued that “nobody should be discriminated against in the eyes of the law”.

He also feels that “traffic accidents or traffic problems” cannot be “that easily solved by fines.”

What do you think?

I personally feel that it may be a good measure, as rich drivers are honestly going to be less deterred by fines.

I also feel that it should be pegged to income levels rather than vehicle value, as a TODAY reader shared, “It is common to find luxurious cars in (public housing) estates, but the owners are not necessarily wealthy. Some, though not all, are asset-rich but cash-poor.”

Such measures are not without precedent, as fines in Switzerland and Finland are calculated based on the offender’s income.

However, I’m all for a form of deterrence or penalty that goes beyond fines to tackle this issue.

What do you think?