The Mumbai traffic police on Wednesday seized 190 drivers’ licences and suspended 52 of these on day one of its crackdown on motorists who flout traffic rules.
The traffic police, which launched the drive in conjunction with the regional transport office (RTO) after a government resolution called for strict penalties for traffic rule violations, also stopped 352 bikers riding without a helmet and 140 motorists who jumped red lights. Additionally, nine motorists were caught talking on the phone while driving, while four others were stopped for not wearing a seatbelt.
Under the new drive, motorists who jump signals, drive above the speed limit or talk on the phone while driving will have their licences suspended for three months. Riding without a helmet or driving without a seatbelt will attract a penalty and a mandatory two-hour counselling session on road safety.
Fifteen traffic police divisions launched the first phase of the drive with ‘impact squads’. The special teams, formed specifically in response to the government resolution, were led by a police officer and also included four constables and an RTO officer.
Namdeo Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, suburbs (traffic), said, “In the west and north regions, impact squads from Bandra, Malad, Jogeshwari and DN Nagar traffic divisions checked for violations. Every day, four divisions will be selected to action in a region. Initially, we are concentrating on bikers without helmets and drivers without seatbelts.”
The drive kicked off around 10am, after checkpoints were put up at various locations. The teams changed location every hour to deter motorists from flouting rules and increase awareness about the drive. “It is important that motorists know about the changes. This will also act as an awareness campaign. We are changing locations every hour for maximum reach,” said Machindra Bodhke, inspector at Malad traffic division.
The Jogeshwari traffic division decided to try some ‘Gandhigiri’ by offering a rose to every biker caught without a helmet. “We are your well-wishers. Wear a helmet, be safe while riding,” the constables would say while handing a rose to a surprised biker. The anger at being caught quickly gave way to a smiling face and the offender usually paid the fine without complaint. Police officials were not spared either. A motorist tweeted a photo of women beat marshals riding a bike without helmets to the Mumbai police’s Twitter handle. Officers of an Impact squad were alerted. Around 1.30 pm, the beat marshals were called to Malad Link Road, where the drive was underway, and were penalised for the offence.