The traffic police in Chandigarh have been shifting their focus from one violation to another in the past five years. Though the effort is to create awareness about different traffic rules, a basic question remains: If there is a law for all rules, why not focus on all violations at all times? Surely, that sounds strict, but this unwritten policy seems strange when it’s clear that road safety is a matter of life and death.
Statistics available with the police show that there are some violations for which traffic cops have been issuing challans consistently, while others are ignored completely. The police have issued challans to over 11 lakh people and fetched more than Rs 29 crore through challaning fines, and impounded more than 37,000 vehicles, in the past five years. The focus has been on penalising non-use of helmet and seatbelt, red-light jumping, use of mobile phone while driving, and stopping on zebra crossing.
Speeding and red-light jumping are two offences that are violated again and again by the motorists, despite challan drives. Last year alone, 47,055 motorists were challaned for red-light jumping. And this year, till September 11, the challan figure for this has already crossed last year’s number, at 52,850.
Similarly, for speeding, 19,681 challans were issued last year. Till September 11 this year, 18,642 challans have been issued for the offence. Motorists also continue to drive with high-beam headlight.
Last year, 2,611 challans were issued for the offence, while this year the number till September 11 is 2,738.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), traffic, Maneesh Chaudhry says, “The challan drives are not to bother motorists but to create awareness. Challans are a deterrent so that motorists once fined for a violation do not do it again.”
However, there are certain violations which go unnoticed by the Chandigarh police. These too can lead to serious accidents. For instance, even though the high court has been harping on promoting lane driving, data available with the police suggests that not much is being done in that direction. The police issued 394 challans for not following lane driving last year, but this year, till September 11, the figure is just 107, even though the violation is apparent on the city’s roads. Similarly, there are hardly any challans for non-installation of side mirrors.
Smoking while driving is a violation which is not paid much attention to. Even underage driving is not on the combat priority of the police; they challaned 159 underage drivers last year, though there is slight increase to 182 till September 11 this year.
Some consistency has been maintained for creating awareness about certain violations through challaning. Driving without seatbelt has been catching the attention of cops. Since 2010, every year around 13,000 challans have been issued for this. But the focus has to be uniform.