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Nearly eight out of 10 drivers object to the idea of allowing local authorities to keep traffic penalties they collect as local revenue, fearing the system would encourage crackdowns on traffic violations, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The NPA asked 1,955 driver’s license holders how they felt about a proposal from a government advisory panel that the collection of traffic fines be decentralized.

At present, traffic violation fines collected by local police are pooled by the central government and redistributed to local authorities based primarily on the number of traffic accidents that occurred in each region.

The money is typically used for the upkeep of traffic lights and other traffic safety devices.

The NPA said 79 percent of the drivers polled believed local authorities would set up traffic violation crackdown “quotas” if they are allowed to keep the fines. The remaining 21 percent were positive about the proposed change, agreeing with the statement that “it is fine” for local authorities to step up crackdowns on traffic violations.

The survey “substantiates the concern among drivers that local authorities would tighten crackdowns just for the sake of raising revenue,” the NPA said.

The NPA said 68 percent of the drivers polled believe the proposed change would lead to regional gaps in the maintenance of traffic safety equipment, while 67 percent are in favor of the existing system of sharing the revenue in proportion to traffic accident figures.

The NPA conducted the survey over three days in late May on motorists in Tokyo, Osaka, Gifu, Iwate, Wakayama, Tottori and Nagasaki prefectures.

The pollees were attending refresher courses for renewing their driver’s licenses.

Apart from Tokyo and Osaka, the survey was also conducted in Gifu, Iwate, Wakayama, Tottori and Nagasaki prefectures.

The NPA got replies from 1,955 drivers.

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