If you’re one traveller who often prefers being a reckless driver on the roads, the recent traffic department circular to all traffic police branches in the state is something you should be aware of. As per the circular, you might soon end up having your licence of being behind the wheels, suspended for not less than three months, if you’re caught violating the norms.
When it comes to road safety, traffic signal, zebra crossing, and road signs, unfortunately, play an inconsiderable part in our country be it in the metro cities or in the small towns. Though the cities are grooming up with CCTV camera surveillance, the insufficient number of traffic police make it impossible to track rash drivers, use of mobile phone while driving, not using seat belt or even traffic signal breakers! And, as we all know, the mere penalty doesn’t deter the offenders.
The three-year-old government resolution (GR) is now all set to become a reality to diligently implementing a ‘zero tolerance’ campaign to put an end to fatal accidents on roads. As per the directives issued by the State Additional Director General (Traffic), the traffic police will now be authorised to forward driving licences of the traffic offenders to the RTO for suspension. The campaign is set in motion on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and the department plans to initiate on other highways as well on an urgent note.
Hiral Shah, a digital marketing professional from Mumbai asserted, “In my opinion, Traffic Department has passed a stringent and much-required order for the safety of the citizens. We see many young riders who go without a helmet, jump signals, and become troublemakers on the roads. They somehow do not care for their own lives, as well as others. The Traffic department might face problems related to bribery since these rash drivers have many “chacha vidhayaks” to get things done using the power of money.”
Even in 2015, the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan directed all the states and the union territories to suspend the licence of all traffic rule violators for a minimum of three months. The panel stated, “Unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, violation of helmet laws and seat belt laws, the use of mobile phones while driving, and overloading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high.” In case of traffic rule violations by the two-wheeler riders, the panel asked to make helmet laws mandatory for the main rider and the pillion rider besides deciding that the offender will be imposed a fine as prescribed under the Motor Vehicle Act and subject to a two hour Road Safety Education and Counselling session. However, the enforcement of the same has remained a massive disappointment so far.
On the condition of anonymity, a daily commuter in the city expressed, “Such an action is needed but a sudden suspension isn’t a viable solution as it would only lead to increased cases of people driving with challans as they won’t change their mode of travelling for that time period. Digital Memos can be issued to the ones breaking the law which would be linked directly with the driver’s license which would help monitor a person’s action till date. After three such memos, a permanent suspension of the licence can be an option.”
Nonetheless, the six violations that are mentioned in the GR passed in Maharashtra are speeding, drink driving, jumping signals, talking on the phone while driving, ferrying passengers in a commercial vehicle and overloading a commercial vehicle. Moreover, the chiefs of the police stations and highway police across the state are instructed to initiate speedy actions on the complaints and send a weekly report to the KS Radhakrishnan-led panel.
As per reports, Maharashtra reported more than 35,800 road crashes and around 13,000 fatalities in 2017. Post the SC panel instruction, even the Traffic department officials are found expressing disappointment that the RTOs are receiving a very negligible number of driving licenses for suspension. The decision to release the circular came out after the highway police officers had a discussion on Saturday with road safety activists on factors that lead to fatal crashes on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. While the discussion was around how to tackle traffic rule violations like zigzag driving or lane changing, illegal parking, excessive speeding, and non-usage of seat-belts, the recently released circular further stated, “Every traffic police branch is instructed to forward maximum licences for suspension where offenders have committed any of the six types of violations specified. An action report has to be compiled by the state traffic department and subsequently sent to the SC-appointed committee.”
Jay Shah, another commuter said, “I think it’s a good move by the traffic department but the main issue is that people don’t follow the rules. We have seen in many cities that people, without licences, have been driving vehicles. Even if this is implemented, it will be hardly followed for some days or maybe months. But after that, it will be the same old story. A full-proof planning is needed before implementing any of these rules on a full fledge. However, traffic leads to delay in reaching your destination; hence, at times people are left with no option but to violate the rules like jumping the signals and rash driving.”