Although the traffic police’s anti-drink driving drive is held thrice a week from 10 pm to 2 am, it has not proved to be enough of a deterrent — 1,152 cases were registered till February 2 this year, but people continue to drink and drive.
Police officers felt that awareness may work where punishment hasn’t. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Nandkumar Chougule said: “Drivers need to be educated about the adverse effects of drink driving.”
He added that the police were tying up with non-governmental organisations to launch awareness campaigns. (See interview below.)
Apart from the thrice-a-week drive, there are stringent checks during celebrations like New Year’s Eve at about 1,800 junctions in the city. The police keep changing the locations to stay a step ahead of offenders, but accidents such as the one involving Nooria Haveliwala continue to occur.
A drunk Haveliwala (27), a Colaba resident, smashed her SUV into a police van and a taxi, killing two people early on January 30. Among the dead was Police Sub-Inspector Dinanath Shinde.
Traffic experts said the accident was a classic example of how the police’s drive was not enough. “The government needs to educate drivers,” said traffic expert Sudhir Badami.
“Festival nights are the worst. Even after 2 am, there are huge crowds on some roads where drunken drivers come for joy rides,” said Ashok Takalkar, assistant commissioner of police (traffic).
“We have identified the spots frequented by the drivers after drinking, especially riders of two-wheelers, have strengthened nakabandis and increased patrolling there. I feel we can use engineering parameters to design barricade angles such that speed is reduced while crossing them,” said Takalkar.
Traffic experts said the police should put more personnel on duty and conduct drives in more areas. “In the past three months, their campaign has slowed. But more than the traffic, it is drivers’ sheer irresponsibility that is putting them behind bars,” said Nitin Dossa, executive chairman of the Western India Automobile Association. “Instead of 15 squads, the police should post 100 at crucial points.”