10 speed challans issued every minute during lockdown, essential service providers fined multiple times
A large number of motorists who were fined are essential service providers, many of whom had not taken well to their unforgiven challans.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 04:12 IST
Around 10 vehicles, on an average, were fined every minute for speeding in the national capital during the nationwide lockdown that was put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of Covid-19. The prime offenders — essential service providers, some of who were fined multiple times in a day.
According to Delhi Police data, many of these challans were issued to repeat offenders — some getting prosecuted multiple times in a period of days with a few even getting fined multiple times in one day. A doctor, for example, was caught speeding seven times between March 14 and 30 and has to pay a penalty of Rs 14,000. The fine for speeding is Rs 2,000.
The data collected is for the period between March 23 and April 26.
A large number of motorists who were fined are essential service providers, many of whom had not taken well to their unforgiven challans. “Obviously, I broke the speed limit in my rush to attend to my workplace...can I get some relief from these fine,” one such healthcare provider asked the Delhi Traffic Police on Twitter.
Unsatisfied with the police’s response, which asked him to visit the traffic headquarters after the lockdown, the man vowed not to attend duty anymore till the lockdown was lifted.
“Can’t risk another challan as it is a sizeable amount of my salary,” he wrote back.
The man, like many other violators, is, however, unlikely to get any relief, HT has learnt. Taj Hassan, special commissioner of police (Delhi Traffic Police), said that the law doesn’t allow any exemptions. “No one will be exempted. The speed trap cameras do not distinguish. The speeding challan is a habit reforming fine and motorists should follow the rules,” said Hassan.
On Twitter, a lot of essential service providers expressed anguish over being challaned multiple times, some within a short span of time. One man posted a medical slip to say that he was obliging a police team by rushing an unwell person to a hospital. He was caught speeding twice within a period of 24 minutes in north Delhi .
Yet another doctor took to Twitter to tell the police that while he was risking his life by reporting to work and the police was thanking him in the form of challans.
A woman healthcare professional travelling from Delhi to Gurgaon invoked her work to protest against the multiple challans. “...my only commitment is to reach the hospital as soon as possible,” she wrote.
But Piyush Tewari, founder of NGO SaveLife Foundation which works towards preventing road accidents, said that “providers serving Covid-19 issues can’t claim allegiance towards one health issue while ignoring another grave one”.
“More than 115 lives have been lost due to road accidents across India even during the lockdown. Around 10% of these accident cases were reported from Delhi . This goes to show how dangerous our roads are even when there is minimal traffic...Traffic rules have to be followed, no matter what, to keep each other safe. Only emergency medical response vehicles, rushing to immediate life-threatening situations, can be given some relaxations,” said Tewari.
Taj Hassan, meanwhile, maintained that getting captured for speeding by multiple cameras in a day will mean multiple challans. “Some people drive fast as a matter of habit. They’ll get captured several times along their route and they’ll have to pay fines for each of those offences,” he said.
Special commissioner Hassan said that In 35 days of the lockdown, these cameras have noticed a total of 5,07,563 speed violations. That roughly translates to 14,500 violations every day. In the 10 days before the lockdown, there were 5,11,577 such speed violations, translating to about 51,157 such offences every day, at a rate of 35 fines a minute, on an average.
“There are no jams on the roads. Some motorists are using the empty roads to speed,” said Hassan.
Most of these speed detection cameras were installed only last year because of which there is a massive difference in the number of cases of speeding when compared to earlier years, said Hassan. In 2019, for example, there were just about 386 challans for speeding daily, on an average. All those violators were caught by cameras installed in interceptor vehicles, which are manually manned by traffic police personnel. The speed cameras, on the other hand, are automatic and can detect violations even in the dark. There are 236 speed-cameras that have been installed in various parts of the city.
The officer added that despite roads being empty, fatal accidents continue to occur in the city. “There have been 13 fatal accidents during the lockdown. Speeding is a major reason for that,” said Hassan.
The 13 dead people include an MCD hospital doctor, who run over by a car in Malviya Nagar while he was cycling back home from work earlier this month.
Last year, there were about four fatal accidents every day on an average.
The speed violations were caught by cameras installed at 100 points and 34 junctions. “Each junction has a total of four cameras, there are a total of 236 speed-detection cameras doing our job,” said Hassan.
Since many motorists choose to slow down when nearing a camera and speed up immediately after, the traffic police have also decided to deploy manual cameras at certain places.
But these manual cameras are able to detect only a limited number of violations and data on offenders prosecuted with their help was not immediately available with the traffic police.