Let’s take the high road
If you try and hit the road (in Delhi) after a drop too many, you may have to cough up Rs 2,500, dangerous driving will leave you poorer by Rs 1,500 as will using mobile phones while driving.india Updated: Apr 11, 2007 01:16 IST
When caught for a traffic violation, the Delhiite’s usual response varies from ‘Do you know who I am?’ to slipping the traffic policeman a bribe. The more audacious might try to speed away. Starting this week, all this is going to become that much more difficult as the Delhi High Court has come down heavily on traffic offenders with dramatic increases in fines. So, if you try and hit the road after a drop too many, you may have to cough up Rs 2,500, dangerous driving will leave you poorer by Rs 1,500 as will using mobile phones while driving. Those who jump red lights, go helmetless, use pressure horns or smoke will have to pay Rs 600. Now Cassandras may say that this will only encourage bribery by the notoriously law-averse Delhiite. But, initial signs are encouraging. On day one, the police have notched up 4,500 prosecutions and even VIPs were not spared.
Yes, it may take more than stringent fines to get the Delhiite to stay in the right lane, but the court’s decision has boosted the confidence of the traffic police who have long been subjected to people giving them attitude. One argument is that the new fines are unfair to those who earn small amounts. This is specious. Irrespective of your economic or social status, no one has the right to endanger another’s life on the roads. Over the years, Delhi’s once spacious roads had become deathtraps for people, especially pedestrians. Delhi being a transit point for neighbouring states also had to deal with vehicles, mainly trucks, from these places clogging its roads. Now, they will require licences to enter the Capital. So far, so good. But more needs to be done. For one, we need to clear the roads of stray animals, particularly cows.
Such has been the deterioration in traffic conditions that severe steps had to be taken. People may grumble at first but many understand that several of these measures are for their own safety. Tinted glasses on cars have been used as a cover to sexually harass women in moving vehicles. Seat belts and helmets save lives in the case of accidents. And, of course, drunken driving has cost many innocent bystanders their lives. So, the new measures could well mean that we are on the right track to safety.