The traffic police seem to be ignoring ‘minor’ traffic violations such as playing loud music in the car or smoking while driving though the 1988 Motor Vehicle Act does have provisions for penalising such drivers.
The traffic police are very prompt when it comes to penalising drivers for ‘major’ violations such as speeding, drunken driving or jumping red lights.
Playing loud music or smoking while driving or without headlights on, traffic police said, are “minor offences and do not affect road safety”. Most of them entail a R100 fine.
“Our prime focus is to prosecute motorists for violations that make them vulnerable to road accidents,” said Anil Shukla, additional commissioner of police (traffic). Also, with barely 5,000 men in their ranks, it is impossible to prosecute motorists for every wrong, an officer said.
Transport experts have, however, rejected such talk and said a driver can easily get distracted when smoking or listening to loud music. Moreover, high beam temporarily blinds other motorists on roads, causing accidents.
“Even as people are demanding an amendment to the 1988 Act to put in place stricter penalties, it is unfortunate that the traffic police do not even enforce the existing guidelines,” said KK Kapila, chairman, International Road Federation (IRF), an agency that works for road safety.
He said traffic policemen should be sensitised about the Motor Vehicles Act and the possible adverse impact of the ‘minor’ violations.
PR Sarkar, professor of transport planning at the School of Planning and Architecture, said, “An action plan should follow the amendment of the Act.”