No-Contact Apprehension: Technology to tame motorists

Everyone has an opinion on the traffic problem. Most say it’s the lack of enforcement of traffic regulations that is the biggest contributor to the traffic problem in Metro Manila. And so, reckless, and semi-educated drivers follow their own rules in their attempts to just get to their destinations at the soonest possible time.

Now comes a technology that enforces traffic laws, rules and regulations without the meeting of enforcer and violator, eliminating human intervention and corruption. It’s called the No-Contact Apprehension Policy (NCAP) and it was the hot topic last week in social media and online forums. The reason is – the heavy fines and the strict enforcement of traffic laws and regulations is a real cause of concern. For example, beating the red light would get one a fine of ₱2,000 for first offense. And that amount increases until it gets paid.

Ignoring a traffic citation sent through the mail has a very inconvenient ending. The vehicle’s plate number is included in the Alarm List and the owner cannot renew its registration. But first, pay the fine with late payment penalty. It’s a “painful” experience all around.

NCAP, or the use of CCTVs and digital cameras to capture videos and images of vehicles violating traffic laws, rules and regulations, is not new. It started in 2009 as an enforcement measure of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). It was an off-and-on program until it was re-implemented in 2016 and continues until today with the technology monitoring the major streets of Metro Manila, one of them EDSA.

Four local government units in Metro Manila have adopted the system – Manila (started Dec. 2020), Quezon City (started July 2022), Paranaque (started 2018), and Valenzuela (started Sept. 2019).
With the many complaints, Land Transportation Office Chief Teofilo Guadiz III appealed to LGUs to consider suspending the NCAP implementation to give way to the conduct of a thorough review of the traffic policy.

One of the issues he cited is that “under the law, it is the registered owner of the vehicle who pays the fine, on the presumption that the registered owner is the driver.” Transportation groups had brought up this problem as they have to pay for the fines of their drivers.

“It seems there is a hole in the policy that needs to be revised so that the actual driver of the vehicle is held responsible for the violation,” Guadiz said.

Representative Robert Ace Barbers sought a House investigation into the policy after receiving complaints from delivery riders who claimed to have been slapped with enormous fees “without due process of law.”(What happens if a violator can’t afford to pay the fine?)

But Valenzuela City Mayor Weslie Gatchalian disagreed with the calls to suspend NCAP, saying it has taught discipline to many motorists. Instead, he suggested that NCAP be made a metro-wide initiative with uniform fines, rules, and adjudication committee.

Meanwhile, we have noticed the way NCAP has affected motorists, specifically in Manila. Observe the way they keep to their lanes and stop at the intersections many seconds before the traffic signal countdown ends.

We urge the continuous study of the NCAP system to effect a fair implementation of traffic rules. An education campaign on basic traffic rules and a longer period to contest a violation would be welcome moves. We also suggest that its monitoring staff visit the intersections with many violators to check on the real road conditions that may be causing a number of violations in the same corner.

We need a no-contact apprehension system that would keep traffic moving smoothly and keep our roads safe. It should also take into account the affordability level of majority of drivers.