If you’re a compulsive jaywalker, it’s time to change your ways.
On Monday, the traffic police launched a drive against jaywalking, nabbing 88 pedestrians who preferred crossing roads instead of using the subways or waiting for their signal at zebra crossings.
The first leg of the week-long drive was carried out at the subway near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on DN Road between 10 am and noon. Rs 8,800 was collected in fines from the 88 jaywalkers nabbed.
Jaywalking is punishable under Section 131 of the Bombay Police Act. A fine of Rs 100 is levied on offenders.
Over the next six days, similar exercises will be carried out at Haji Ali, Churchgate, Metro and the pedestrian bridge outside CST, all major junctions in South Mumbai, said Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Ashok Takalkar of the Colaba traffic division.
Of those caught on Monday, 84 did not even know that jaywalking was an offence.
“I didn’t know jaywalking was a violation of the rules. I have always crossed the road instead of taking the subways. I was never stopped before,” said Javed Khan, who was among those caught.
Some tried to blame the police. “The police have not educated us enough about these rules. We don’t know about jaywalking. First-time offenders should be let off with a warning,” said Vinayak Sasane (23), an office boy.
Some pedestrians said it was the poor state of the subways that forced them to dodge traffic. “The police and the civic body do nothing about the hawkers and illegal stalls crowding the subways. We will use the subway only when it’s fit to be used,” said an angry Raju Pawar (43), a businessman who was among those fined.
The drive was initiated after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sent a letter to the traffic department last month, urging it to act against jaywalkers, especially outside major junctions.
The traffic police said 500 people lost their lives in road accidents in 2008. This year, till August, the fatality count was 377. “The idea is to reduce the number of fatalities. We hope to restrict the number to 400 this year,” said Takalkar.
During the drive, the police will try to educate pedestrians about the law and make them aware of the dangers of jaywalking. “People dash across the road when they are in a hurry. All we are asking them is to use the subways instead and follow the rules. That will benefit everybody,” Takalkar said. “Abroad, not a single constable is deployed at signals. Yet, the rules are followed. In Mumbai, we have a constable at every signal. Yet, citizens don’t obey the law.”
“There are enough subways, but people still prefer short cuts. Although jaywalking is a minor offence, it triggers serious accidents. This drive will help us educate pedestrians about traffic rules meant to benefit them,” said Sanjay Barve, joint commissioner of police, traffic.