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Present Approach of Traffic Police vis-a-vis Indian drivers on Road

Written by: Kanwal D.P.Singh, Lecturer ( Amity Law School ) New Delhi
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The word police means the civil force constituted to maintain law & order. Nowhere in the world the purpose of Police is defined as revenue generation. Neither is the performance of police evaluated by the no. of chalans or revenue generated. Rather more is the no. of challan more is the failure of police, for it reflects general public's concern for traffic rules. Sadly in India we have Traffic rules but no traffic discipline. Safe driving should not come because of fear of challan or traffic police but should be a way of life. This needs intense exposure of general public to the advantage of safe driving. This starts from instructing the friendly traffic policeman to not to hide behind the trees or bushes and jump in front of the offender but to stop the erring driver and make him well aware of the possible consequences of his offence.

Take an everyday example of a person driving on the rightmost lane at a speed of 30~35 oblivious of the rest of world. Despite all the efforts by the following driver he is firm on his right to drive on the rightmost lane. The person who is following finally loses patience and overtakes from the left (offence) then zooms past to show his irritation (risk). In the eyes of our traffic police this driver is at fault and will be definitely taken to task if he is caught. But isn't the person who is responsible for this episode also be made accountable.

If no then why abetment to suicide is an offence?
The rationale behind such driving behaviour is that when we drive at the rightmost we only have to watch our left and don't have to bother about both the sides! Isn't it surprising, rather than be aware of the inconvenience that might be caused to the other people we have an attitude Mujhe Iss se kya. For such people can drive scot free as there is no rule for such offence and no eyes to watch such behaviour unless you happen to cross the path of a VIP. Let us try analyzing a little further and we find that the evil is in the root itself and rather than trying to correct it we are promoting it! The friendly neighbourhood driving school instructor starts his lecture with the instruction that no matter what ever be the amount of honking behind you, stick to your right if you want to be safe.

It is mandatory for any vehicle maker to provide Rear View Mirror as a standard fitment. How many drivers actually use it or for that matter how many drivers actually keep the mirror in open condition while driving is a different matter. Unless we have a habit of watching traffic at the rear periodically how can we be alert or while changing the lane watchout for any body coming at a faster speed from behind.

The Motor Vehicle Act clearly stipulates the Maxi Cab to carry 6-12 passengers depending on the model. But the common interpretation by the drivers on the highways is that these many passengers are permitted to cling to the vehicle. You will hardly find a maxicab with all its doors closed. Occasionally we find a maxicab with all its doors removed! These vehicles are visible to the common drivers but somehow they are never visible to the policemen.

At some point of time even you would have got a shock of your life when a bus or a truck honks a pressure horn right behind you. Or the attendant of the vehicle beating the side of the vehicle and demanding side using choicest of words. You may be shaken with that horn but the policemen prefer to turn a deaf ear to it. Supreme Court of India with due regards had given a clear instruction to the Delhi Police after Wazirabad tragedy to ensure that all buses have speed governors and drive only on the left side of the road. Do we actually find the instructions being followed or shouldn't it be treated as contempt of court.

All vehicle owners are desired to have their vehicles road worthy then shouldn't it be applied vice-versa. The state should also provide us roads which are vehicle worthy. Any accident arising out of a pothole or a open manhole should be treated as the negligence of the authority and insurance companies should be spared of that expense by reimbursing them. Authorities hide behind the usual excuse of lack of funds. Is it really lack of funds or waste of funds due to delay in implementation.

Would a traffic policeman accept the same plea from a driver for his failure to maintain his vehicle due to lack of funds?
Adhering to the norms does not require any additional funds but a bit of honesty towards work. The speed breakers on the roads can be well termed as the vehicle breakers and in some cases cause serious injuries also. If your house is on the main road you have the advantage of that extra convenience and extra value as well as liberty to construct two speed breakers in front of your house without requiring any permission. After all what else is the meaning of democracy.
The blinding high beams is still another menace. Few years back the government had initiated painting the headlights half black ! By now the government would have realized that the civic sense cannot be taught with a stick. It has to come from within and the government has to work towards infusing it.

By now most of the drivers are aware of the vulnerable points where there could be cop hidden somewhere with the Doppler gun. The drivers slowdown at these points and watch out for the Traffic Police; All clear zoom off at your best. Noida Toll Bridge or the NH-8 near Airport could be seen as a good example for this. It clearly demonstrates that we neither have respect nor do we care for the traffic rules.

Why do we have such negative attitude ? Has any body at Traffic Police bothered to find out ? The main reason that I could find out was that the basic mindset of our policeman revolves around the money. It is a open secret that you commit an offence and go scot free after paying the policeman. Whether it is for his department or for his own pocket is another issue and I better leave it now. The fine structure is such that it is hardly any deterrent. On the other side it is also a fact that the fine structure graph is directly proportional to the corruption. So, how to improve this situation? In today's world it is not the money that matters but the time. Imagine, getting a notice from the traffic police to report to the traffic training park on a designated date for an offence. On reporting there you find your self amongst many other fellow drivers. All first, given a lecture on why their behaviour on the road was undesirable and the consequences which could have been, then giving them driving lessons for one or two hours at the park and interrupting at every other mistake and telling them about it.

Isn't the thought itself more dreadful than paying hundred or four hundred Rupees on the spot?
It clearly shows that the money collected by the traffic police could be good figures only to the exchequer but at the cost of very purpose of it. I wonder whether someday we are going to have somebody at the high up there whose wisdom will prevail upon him to stop the practice of converting the traffic police into a revenue making machine and make them do the holy job for which their force was formed to avoid the precious loss of life and money and ensure smooth traffic. This will definitely earn him and his force gratitude of millions of citizens like me.

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