Special drives, random checks, signboards, penalties - the city police and the traffic department have been taking several measures to keep a check on traffic violations that raise the risk of road accidents, though it is debatable whether what they are doing is enough.
The police initiated a drive against underage drivers in south Mumbai colleges on July 25, soon after a 17-year-old student from Jai Hind College, driving his father's Honda City without licence, knocked down and killed a 74-year-old businessman at Churchgate on July 18.
"The drive was conducted to primarily check whether students under the age of 18 were driving," said Dr Ravindra Shisve, zonal deputy commissioner of police, who initiated the drive. "It extended to other traffic violations." In this drive, the police booked 80 people for underage driving, driving without helmets and driving without valid documents.
Earlier, on June 20, the traffic police initiated a 'don't kill the zebra' drive and booked 1,919 motorists whose vehicles crossed the zebra crossing at signals. A motorist who halts his or her vehicle on or after the zebra crossing is liable to pay a fine of Rs. 100. The traffic police have organised campaign several times in the past in an attempt to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross roads.
"Because of motorists, pedestrians are forced to jaywalk, which makes them vulnerable to accidents," said Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner of police, traffic.
On April 7, after receiving several complaints about bikers modifying bikes and removing silencers, the police initiated a drive in south Mumbai to crack down those who were breaking the prescribed sound and speed limits. The three-day campaign led to the arrest of 11 bikers, while cases of rash driving were registered against six offenders; in all, 101 bikers were fined. "We had organised nakabandis along two major stretches in south Mumbai - Marine Drive and Girgaum Chowpatty," said Anil Kumbhare, the then zonal deputy commissioner of police. The offenders, Kumbhare said, were mostly not residents of the area and lived in places as far as Thane, Mumbra and Chembur. In 2011, the traffic police had conducted a similar 15-day drive across Mumbai and caught 15,000 offenders. While some were fined, the others had their bikes seized.
Last year, to avoid traffic blocks on Christmas Eve, the traffic police identified hot spots across the city and deployed additional forces there, following which the number of traffic violations recorded on the day dipped by almost 50% compared to other workdays. Explaining how traffic checks curb violations, Singh said: "On an average workday, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 traffic violations, but on Christmas Eve, because of our checks, the number was just 2,804."
The department collected Rs. 3.26 lakh in fines from violations such as drink driving, rash driving, jumping signals and no parking on Christmas Eve.
Citizens said the drives and checks make a difference. Sunaina Agarwal, 21, a fashion design student from Pandurang wadi, Goregaon (east), said: "The road leading to the east-west flyover close to my home used to see many accidents as there was an unmanned sharp turn where drivers, drunk or sober, usually lost control. But after recurrent nakabandis, especially on weekends, the road has become safer."