The Mumbai traffic police started their campaign to create awareness about the importance of wearing helmets among bikers by posting traffic policemen at petrol pumps on Saturday . Motorists seemed to have fallen in line, said the police, as they found helmet-less riders to be a “rare sight” on the first day of the campaign.
The move came after transport minister Diwakar Raote said the state decided to not go ahead with the previously sought ‘No Helmet, No Fuel’ policy, but would instead asked pump owners to notify the police about helmet-less riders.
Traffic policemen were present at all 223 petrol pumps in Mumbai from 8 am onwards. Constables standing outside the pumps issued challans to helmet-less riders.
At a petrol pump on the Western Express Highway in Goregaon, a constable of the Dindoshi traffic police said that to his surprise, every biker had a helmet on. “Today, everyone is wearing a helmet.We told the few who were without one that the use of one is mandatory,” said the constable.
As the constable was inspecting passing motorists, a motorist stopped around 15 metres away from where he stood. The motorist, travelling with a school boy, was not wearing his helmet. He untied the helmet from the back seat and put it on.
The policeman said he only spotted a couple of bikers riding helmet-less during the first six hours of the campaign.
Heavy police presence near the NESCO exhibition centre may have forced bikers to wear helmets, said the constable.The situation was similar at petrol pumps in Santacruz and Malad. The pump owners instructed their employees to spread the word about the importance of helmets, even after the state changed its stance on the policy.
Scores of petrol pumps in Santacruz and Bandra had put up banners reading ‘No Helmet, No Fuel.’
“We have posted our policemen at the petrol pumps until August 15. After the counseling sessions are completed on the 15th, we will start penalising bikers for riding without a helmet,” said Milind Bharambe, joint commissioner of police, traffic.
The city traffic chief said the penalties would be under the newly-amended penalty rates, which were increased after the central government tabled the bill in the parliament.. The older fine of Rs 100 for riding without a helmet has been increased to Rs 500.
Enforcement cameras to aid cops
For a month, select Mumbai traffic policemen will be posted at 223 petrol pumps across the city to take down the details of vehicles that stop for refueling at the pumps. The data collected during the month will be fed into the traffic department’s system to enable the enforcement cameras.
Senior traffic officers said they have taken the data of the past three years from the Regional Transport Office. The police have also approached the taximen’s association, Uber, Ola, petrol pumps and parking lots in malls. The multi-agency assistance to the traffic police department will create an extensive database, boosting the enforcement camera system.
The enforcement cameras will record the number of vehicles flouting traffic norms, including jumping red lights, speeding and riding without helmets. The Eastern Freeway is already equipped with these cameras. The advanced cameras will help the traffic police to identify the registration number plates of vehicles, as its recording quality is superior to that of normal CCTV cameras. The enforcement cameras, with further upgrades, will enable policemen to send e-challans to violators via email.