HT spotlight | High on challans, low on safety: Rash drivers rule the roads in tricity | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Aug 22, 2017-Tuesday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

HT spotlight | High on challans, low on safety: Rash drivers rule the roads in tricity

Every day, nearly 800 traffic offenders are penalised in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. But, that hardly seems to enforce discipline on the roads. Though the cases of drunk driving have seen a dip in last six months, speedsters continue to run amok, causing a spike in road accidents and fatalities

punjab Updated: Jul 16, 2017 10:38 IST
Drunk driving cases have put a question mark on the traffic setup in the tricity.
Drunk driving cases have put a question mark on the traffic setup in the tricity.(Karun Sharma/HT Photo)

Chandigarh: Despite attracting 1,500 challans since January this year, the menace of rash driving is yet to be tamed. Though over the years there has been a decline in the number of challans for overspeeding, residents blame it on the traffic police’s lopsided focus on drunk driving.

Since January this year, the Chandigarh police has issued 35,000 challans for various violations of which 1,400 were issued for drunk driving.

Contrary to the perception that denizens of the city abide by the traffic laws due to the strict Chandigarh police, the highest number of challans (2400) since January were issued for not wearing the seat belt.

Well-armed cops

The Chandigarh police has 60 PCRs, 20 Cheetah squads, 350 traffic policemen and more than 100 cameras on traffic intersections at its disposal, but traffic violations continue.

Apart from manual challaning, traffic violators are also issued challans though Traffic Violations Information Slip (TVIS) posted to the registered address of the violator when the violations are recorded via CCTV cameras. The traffic police also has a dedicated Facebook page wherein pictures of violations can be uploaded and the violators can be challaned.

SC ban curbed drunk driving

The SC ban on the sale of liquor on highways in April led to a drastic fall in the challans for drunk driving. From an average of 11 challans issued in a day for drunk driving, it came down to just four after April 1.

“The non-availability of liquor did bring down the number of drunk drivers hitting the road,” said a traffic police cop.

Many popular bars, nightclubs and eateries on Madhya Marg, Sector 26, and on Himalaya Marg, Sector 35, were hit by the SC ban on liquor sale near highways.

As per the police, about 345 challans were issued for drunk driving after April 1 as compared to 977 challans issued in the period from January 2017 to March 2017, before the ban came into force.

Suspension of licence

The Chandigarh traffic police, complying with directions of the SC road safety committee, has suspended at least 3,120 driving licences for violating traffic rules since January this year.

The committee has issued instructions to all the states and UTs and their departments concerned to suspend the licence of a driver for a period of not less than three months for driving under the influence of drink or drugs, using a mobile phone while driving or driving at a speed exceeding the specified limit, which in the committee’s view also includes jumping a traffic light.

WELL ARMED, FOCUS ON HELMETS

Mohali: Even though the traffic police has launched a crackdown against traffic violators indulging in drinkand-drive cases and speeding, it has failed to make much difference if the rising number of fatalities on the road is any indication. The Mohali traffic police has already issued over 57,000 challans till June 30. Out of the 57,000 challans, 31,655 were issued for riding without helmets, making it the most challaned traffic offence.

The offence of drunken driving invited only 135 challans, while overspeeding, so rampant in Mohali, attracted a mere 271 challans.

A total of 5,925 drivers were challaned for jumping the red light.

Interestingly, there was a steep fall in the number of challans issued in 2016 (50,140) as compared to the number in 2015 (87,778).

On equipment

The Mohali traffic police, now has 45 alcometers, 10 of which are defunct. It also has five speed guns in its repertoire. DSP traffic Harsimrat Singh blamed the rise in the number of accidents to construction work on the highways. “In the year 2015-2016, the number of accidents was considerably high due to the highway construction, and ever since its completion the number has come down considerably.”

LOW ON STAFF, HIGH IN CHALLANS

Panchkula: Rash driving must be countered with a heavy hand. And that hand needs to be well equipped. In the case of Panchkula, it’s almost empty.

The poorly-staffed Panchkula traffic police—there are only 87 cops to man the entire district— has a lone speed radar, fitted in the only interceptor it has.

The city, which has plenty of taverns, also has only two alco sensors to deal with drunk driving.

All that the traffic police has at its disposal to chase rash drivers is one motorcycle and Gypsy. There are no cranes to lift wrongly parked vehicles or even clamps to ensure that drivers don’t make the same mistake again.

The less said the better about the number of traffic personnel. The number of traffic cops on the rolls is only 87 against 350 such cops in the neighbouring Chandigarh.

It also has just one inspector against seven in the City Beautiful. And there are no women traffic cops. Experts say Panchkula needs 200 personnel as these cops have to not only monitor traffic within its limits but also on the two highways –Panchkula-Shimla and Panchkula-Yamunanagar.

The existing number of policemen on traffic duty too are not adequately empowered to do their duty. There are only 15 personnel who can issue challans here—this privilege is given only to assistants to sub inspectors or an officer above him—unlike Chandigarh where even a head constable can issue a challan.

Challans increase

Notwithstanding the low manpower, the Panchkula police has almost doubled the number of challans issued this year as compared to the previous year.

The number of challans issued till June this year stands at 53,007 as compared to 25,560 challans issued in the corresponding period last year.

The challans for dangerous driving also jumped by over 127% from 564 in 2015 to 1,281 in 2016. A total of 720 challans have already been issued this year.

Interestingly, challans for overspeeding have been on a decline with their number falling from 6,797 in 2015 to 5,489 in 2016, signifying a dip of 19.2%.

There have been 2,587 such challans in 2017 so far. Experts say this could have something to do with the lone speed radar available with the cops.

The drink driving challans are also falling. The number of such challans dipped by over 30% from 488 in 2015 to 341 in 2016. In 2017, there have only been 176 such challans to date.

In September last year, the Panchkula police started issuing postal challans. To date, it has issued 4,038 such challans, while the number of e-challans has gone up to 26,053 (since October 10, 2016).

HIT AND RUN CASES
  • Lawyers agree that hit-and-run deaths or injuries only compound the problem of the victim, especially when the vehicle remains unidentified. Under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1989, there is a provision wherein the family of the victim can get a compensation of 50,000 by producing a copy of the FIR and medical before the Motor Vehicle Claims Tribunal (MACT). An injured too can claim a compensation of 25,000.
  • If at a later stage, the accused is identified, the MACT decides on compensation on the basis of the deceased’s income. But it could take a minimum of two years due to the huge pendency in courts. MACT is a beneficial legislation as even if the accused is acquitted, the victim still gets compensation.
  • The family can also approach District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), which also offers compensation in hit-and-run cases. The personal insurance of the deceased does not get affected in any case, and only a copy of the FIR is required for the insurance firm to pay up. In case of denial, the family can approach MACT.
  • “The sufferer should not have to run from one agency to the other. The government should go to affected person and provide him/her compensation as is provided in MV Act,” feel Pradeep Kumar, a lawyer. Another lawyer explained that loss of life can’t be compensated and some deterrent is needed. In most countries, hit-and-run cases are non-bailable, but in India people are able to get a bail within minutes of such an accident.
  • He added that there is also a need to make police investigation more scientific so that culprits don’t go scot-free.

THEY SAY

Government should immediately step in to stop the blood bath on roads. Hit and run offence should be made non-bailable.--Deepak Sabharwal, criminal lawyer, Haryana

The government should make provisions for providing compensation in hit and run cases. A corpus should be made for this purpose.-- Lalit Gupta, expert in MACT cases

Mere police presence is not the answer to rash driving menace. A lot of construction work is happening in vicinity, which in causing accidents.--Tarun Rattan, SP traffic, Mohali

Technology is the answer to check the menace. Traditional methods of policing needed to be equipped with technology.--Navdeep Asija, traffic advisor, Punjab

We have almost doubled the number of challans. But there are issues of missing zebra lines, markings for lane and non-functional traffic lights.--Munish Sehgal,ACP traffic, Panchkula

ROAD ACCIDENTS THAT TOOK A TOLL ON THEIR DREAMS

A bus crushed her dreams

Chandigarh:Her dreams were crushed under the speeding wheels of a Haryana Roadways bus when it ran over her husband on the Sector 22-23 traffic light point in January 2015.

Alisha Singh (24) could only watch in horror as her husband Harjeet Singh (26) was run over by the bus. “An accident not only kills one person but the entire family,” says Alisha, mother of a four-year-old. Alisha, who had married Harjeet in August 2013 despite opposition from her family, was riding pillion on his new Activa when the accident took place.

“We were on our way to get a registration plate fixed,” Alisha recounts. The joyride turned into a nightmare when a bus grazed them. The front wheel of the Activa got stuck in a pothole and both fell on the road. Before they could get up, the Haryana Roadways bus had run over Harjeet.

This was just the beginning of a long ordeal for Alisha, then a 22-year-old with a seven-month-old son. “I had only studied until Class 12 and wasn’t eligible for a job. Barely 10 days after the death of my husband, my in-laws began to ill treat me,” she recounts.

The feisty young woman remembers how she even thought of ending her life but carried on living for the sake of her son. Now pursuing a diploma course in cosmetology to improve her prospects of getting a job, Alisha says she filed a claim before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) but it turned out to be a long-drawn affair. “At the end, I got a sum of 12 lakh, most of which went into paying the lawyer’s fees, leaving me with only 4 lakh.”

Left to survive on a pittance

Panchkula: Manjeet Kaur was 29 years old when her husband Hardeep Singh, 32, a driver with CRPF, died in a hitand-run accident in Sector 20, Panchkula, in March, 2014.

Today she is trying to raise her two children, Inderjeet (13) and Major (11), on a measly pension of ₹12,000 in Gurdaspur. “I am a housewife, it is difficult to survive on this sum. We do not even have land to fall back on. I did not get any job on compassionate grounds. My in-laws have also not been supporting me. We are left to live in one room and kitchen,” Manjeet Kaur wipes a tear.

Hardeep Singh and his colleague Balbir Singh had gone to drop his children to St Xaviers’ School in Sector 20, Panchkula, when tragedy struck on March 10. Both decided to pay obeisance at the Kundi village gurdwara.

They were going there on foot when a maxicab hit Hardeep from the back. The maxicab driver fled the scene along with the vehicle. Balbir Singh, who was the eyewitness, could note down only half the number which was temporary. At General Hospital, Sector 6, Hardeep was declared brought dead. But the police managed to arrest the driver, Rajesh Kumar, after three days.

During the trial, however, Kumar got the benefit of doubt and was acquitted. But the case under MACT is still pending. “Our wait for compensation has now entered the fourth year. The judgment, we hope, will bring us some relief,” says Manjeet Kaur.

Hit-and-run cases pose a problem

Lawyers agree that hit-and-run deaths or injuries only compound the problem of the victim, especially when the vehicle remains unidentified.

Under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1989, there is a provision wherein the family of the victim can get a compensation of 50,000 by producing a copy of the FIR and medical before the Motor Vehicle Claims Tribunal (MACT). An injured too can claim a compensation of 25,000.

If at a later stage, the accused is identified, the MACT decides on compensation on the basis of the deceased’s income. But it could take a minimum of two years due to the huge pendency in courts. MACT is a beneficial legislation as even if the accused is acquitted, the victim still gets compensation.

The family can also approach District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), which also offers compensation in hit-and-run cases. The personal insurance of the deceased does not get affected in any case, and only a copy of the FIR is required for the insurance firm to pay up. In case of denial, the family can approach MACT.

“The sufferer should not have to run from one agency to the other. The government should go to affected person and provide him/her compensation as is provided in MV Act,” feel Pradeep Kumar, a lawyer.

Another lawyer explained that loss of life can’t be compensated and some deterrent is needed. In most countries, hit-and-run cases are non-bailable, but in India people are able to get a bail within minutes of such an accident. He added that there is also a need to make police investigation more scientific so that culprits don’t go scot-free.

(MENACE OF RASH DRIVING IN TRICITY: CONCLUDING PART)