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Educating Drivers

Speedy penalization alone can prove deterrent to traffic rule violators

Over 4,100 motorists have been penalized by the Panaji traffic cell for violations ranging from obstructive parking to parking in prohibited spots. Among those who were booked were drivers of 30-odd government vehicles, which suggested that the police have shown a fair hand in dealing with violators. It is not uncommon to see government vehicles, including those of police, violating traffic rules. Let us hope the traffic police continue to follow a ‘no privilege’ policy with respect to drivers of government vehicles. Over 640 cases were booked for parking on zebra crossings and another 304 for parking at places reserved for persons with disabilities. The drive against illegal parking started in January this year. However, most of the cases were booked in the last two months after the traffic police started strictly enforcing the rules. They booked around 150 violators daily.

The Panaji traffic cell must continue the drive against illegal parking as it is proving to be deterrent. With the police booking 150 violators daily, the number of cases of violations has declined over the last month or so. According to Inspector Brandon de Souza who heads the Panaji traffic cell, his men are trying persuasion along with strict enforcement to instill road discipline among motorists. His men no doubt have a very difficult task before them. Most drivers of vehicles do not follow traffic rules. Adherence to traffic rules should have come naturally to a state with high literacy, but unfortunately education has failed to civilize most Goans who have come to own SUVs, cars, motorcycles and scooters. The fall in the number of cases booked against violators should not therefore be taken as a final proof of penalty doing what education should have done. It only shows that fear of penalty alone would make drivers civil. It is unfortunate that the decision of the Union road transport ministry to impose hefty fines on violators of traffic rules was opposed by the state government. The number of persons killed and injured in accidents has been going up because there is no check on over-speeding, lane breaking and rash driving.

As the deterrence of hefty fines is out, the police can curb violations by relentlessly enforcing the traffic rules. The campaign against violators should not be sporadic. That would only embolden the violators. The state government must provide the enforcement officials with adequate human and technological resources. The traffic police are handicapped by lack of adequate resources. Till about a couple of months ago, the Panaji traffic cell had only around 50 clamps, which were not enough to deal with the scale of violations on the city roads. It was only in late July that 200 additional clamps were provided to the cell, which has helped in booking a large number of cases; the number of clampings went up to 150 per day as a result. The traffic cell has only one four-wheeler in which its personnel can ferry the clamps. In the absence of vehicles, the traffic personnel are forced to carry clamps on two-wheelers, which means they can carry only a limited number of clamps, thereby allowing many to escape punishment.

No wonder, despite the rise in the number of cases booked, road indiscipline grows. Haphazard and irregular parking can be seen on almost all the city roads. The state government, which decided to reduce the fines recommended by the Union transport ministry, has to find ways to make the traffic police and transport departments capable of bringing traffic discipline. There are many issues that come in the way of speedy penalization of traffic violators. The issues relate to procedures as well as to coordination between departments. The state government has, by deciding to reduce the hefty fines, pleased the owners of two-wheelers and four-wheelers. But it has hugely displeased the law-abiding citizens who are concerned over the rising graph of casualties in road accidents. The government must please them too by evolving ways to cut down on procedural delays to facilitate speedy penalization of traffic violators. Speedy penalization would act as deterrent. The campaign should not be limited to parking rules violations but also include violations like over-speeding, entry into no-entry areas and overtaking from the wrong side.

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