Rash & negligent: 8,181 drivers brought to book
Most road accidents are attributed to reckless driving, yet low fines ensure that the issue persists
The Mumbai traffic police booked 8,181 people for rash driving this year (till September). Most of these drivers were caught during special drives, said police.
These motorists were booked under section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act for ‘driving a motor vehicle at a speed which is dangerous to the public’. The penalty for rash driving in India is Rs500, which may go up to Rs1,000, as per the Motor Vehicles Act.
“We have been taking action against motorists to ensure road safety,” said Namdeo Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, (west region) traffic.
According to the World Health Organisation’s global status report on road safety, 2015, “Some 1.25 million people [across the world] die each year as a result of road traffic crashes, despite improvements in road safety.”
In a press release, Dr Margaret Chan, director general of WHO said, “We’re moving in the right direction. The report shows that road safety strategies are saving lives. But it also tells us that the pace of change is too slow.”
The WHO report highlights that the risk of dying in a road traffic crash still depends, in great part, on where people live and how they move around. A big gap still separates high-income countries from low- and middle- income ones, where 90% of road traffic deaths occur, despite the fact that these countries have just 54% of the world’s vehicles.
As per India’s national crime records bureau, most road accidents in 2014 were due to over-speeding, accounting for 36.8% of the total accidents. These accidents caused be over-speeding accounted for 48,654 dead, and left 1,81,582 others injured.
7,897 more accidents were reported in 2014 as compared to 2013. Last year, 4,50,898 accidents took place. The fatalities in road accidents have also increased by 2.9% in 2014 as compared to 2013.
In Maharashtra, 44,382 accidents were recorded last year, accounting for 13,529 dead. Rash driving is one of the major causes of accidents in India.
City traffic cops have only six working speedguns
No road is empty in Mumbai except at night- and that is when motorists speed up. That is also when the weaknesses of the Mumbai traffic police are laid bare.
Most typically, traffic police catch rule-breaking motorists and bikers at nakabandis. But they routinely fail to catch those who are speeding on open roads and highways. The reason? Lack of equipment.
“Of the 31 speedguns with the Mumbai traffic police, we have only six in working condition,” said a senior traffic officer who did wish to be named.
As their name suggests, speedguns are used to gauge the speed of a particular vehicle. A few years ago, the Mumbai traffic police purchased 18 speed guns, each costing Rs1.48 lakh; and 11 more speed guns, each costing Rs3.03 lakh. In 2006, a laser speed gun worth Rs24.12 lakh was added to the inventory, as well as a radar speed gun worth Rs24.83 lakh.
Most of the speedguns went out of order one by one, and were not repaired because the process to get them repaired has been delayed.
Several proposals sent to the state government for new equipment are yet to see the light of day. Several officers in the traffic department even admit that the working speedguns are rarely put to use.
The overworked and underpaid traffic department is also understaffed. With merely 3,500 personnel in the 34 traffic divisions of the city, there are not enough cops to tackle the problem of speeding.
The latest WHO report on road safety places India at number three on a scale of ten when it comes to enforcement of speeding laws.
While 8,181 cases of rash driving were registered this year till September, the police were only able to catch 1,495 motorists for speeding in nine months.
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