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Citizens must follow traffic rules

There was outrage of social media and also the opposition was very aggressive in attacking the new traffic rules. Because, after the new traffic rules that applied from September 1 under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, several cases of people paying hefty fines are being reported from different parts of India. In Gurugram, an auto driver was handed over a challan of Rs 32,500 after he was found to have jumped red light signal and in Bhubaneswar a drunken auto rickshaw driver was fined Rs 47,500. Rajya Sabha passed the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill 2019, which was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister for Road Transport and Highways. This bill was the amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 that provided for road safety. After years of being in development, this is the second revision made in recent times. And, given a chance, it could help correct road behaviour, simply because current revised fines though not steep, will at least make one pause, because the rules aren’t enforced seriously in India. We don’t need harsh laws but tough people who could enforce the law. From previous fines of Rs 100, to an interim period revision, current fines would appear to be substantial. However, some parameters still remain largely undefined but will hopefully be easier to understand in the months to come.

Dangerous driving penalty under section 154 of the MV Act has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000. While the fine decided looks good enough to stop someone from offending, it’s still unclear what defines dangerous driving, and under what parameters it’ll be determined. A Delhi man has been fined a whopping Rs 23,000 for riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet and also for not carrying important documents. This can happen to anyone if they do not obey traffic rules. Many a times people drive without valid papers and safety measures.

We the people live with double standards, if people drive slower than us are called cowards. And those who are faster have a death wish. We drive with our instinct. We don’t need rear view mirrors. We keep them bent and will drive with our sixth sense. We turn wherever we want to. Law forbids using indicators. You don’t keep safe distance between the next cars, because you fear that others may put their car in that gap. It is a common phenomenon that is experienced by every other person at least once in his or her life. It is the job of a police officer to ensure that law and order in a society is maintained. And they are equipped with means and sometimes-coercive indispensable powers to ensure the same.

The same principle applies to traffic police. The primary duty of a traffic police is to ensure the smooth movement of traffic and deter any rule breaking. However, there are times when you are being pulled over by a police for no apparent reason. In that scenario it is pertinent to know what are your rights and what should you do when faced with similar situation. You must stop your car when signaled by a traffic police and produce the documents required by the officer; otherwise you are breaking the law if you don’t. Meanwhile, you too have every right to ask him the reason for stopping you; however you should not get into an argument. If you feel there is genuine reason behind breaking the rule, explain it to the officer, as everyone is not corrupt if all are not honest.

If you have committed any mistake explain it to the officer candidly and seek his pardon. He may let you off with a warning if approached with courtesy. Do not drop names of policemen or influential people. If the police officer confiscates your driving license, you may compound the offence by paying a fine to the police officer under whose jurisdiction your license was confiscated otherwise you will be provided a notice from the court. In case you fail to appear before the court, an arrest warrant may be issued. Allow him to impound your license; do not attempt to bribe the traffic officer. Note down his buckle number/name, which shall be mentioned on the plate of his shirt. If he does not have one, you may demand his identity card. If he fails to provide his identity card, don’t give him your documents. You can approach the traffic police with a specific complaint indicating all the particulars about the incident; this must include details about the concerned police officer.

It is desirable to send this complaint by registered post. If the rules are for you then the rules are for the cops too, but the fact is that most of us are disobedient drivers in the world. We don’t care about pedestrians, take pride in jumping red light, don’t know the meaning of lane, drive around with helmet in their hands instead of head, no sense of right of way, talking on phone while driving. Overall fines have increased, so have the type of offences committed by people.

Government should bring more offences under fines. If the higher penalties were imposed on various traffic violations people will learn to obey laws. We as citizen of this country need to follow some law and orders to make it safe for everyone but at the same time, government too have responsibility beyond imposing laws. Deterrent to law breaking is good but legislation for guaranteeing good road infrastructure is also need of the hour, government and authorities should own/fix responsibility for road quality. Mumbai is literally in potholes. Why no law for it? Isn’t it a requirement of SIMILAR nature to eliminate road fatalities due the WORST road infrastructure?

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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