Politicians, policemen and motorists must commit to adherence to traffic rules
Despite the traffic police claiming to have penalised an increasing number of people, traffic violations continue to rise. The traffic police launched a special drive against drunk driving/riding and triple seat riding. In the last 45 days, the traffic police booked around 970 motorists for riding/driving under the influence of alcohol in the state, while during the same period around 1000 two-wheeler riders were penalised for triple seat riding. Drunk driving/riding is one of the major causes of road accidents. The figures suggest that more than 20 motorists were caught for drunk driving/riding every day on an average during the past one and a half months. During the first 51 days of this year the police booked around 1,080 drivers or riders for drunk driving as against 863 last year. The police have also reported that there was 61 per cent increase in the cases of red light jumping between January 1 and February 20, with 196 cases booked, as compared to 121 cases in the corresponding period of previous year. The numbers could be much more as traffic lights have been installed only at few places in the state. However, drunk driving/riding, triple seat riding, rash driving and red light jumping, which cause injuries and loss of human lives, continue on the roads. Motorists driving a car or riding a two-wheeler are commonly encountered across the state. Hardly any cases are booked against juveniles riding or driving vehicles, though such cases with or without the connivance of their parents or elders are rampant in the state. Surely, the fear of law is still missing.
The police have staff shortage that constrains them from catching every violator. They also lack equipment and gadgets that can record violations. CCTV cameras are not ubiquitous. Though the traffic police carry out drive against violations daily or at regular intervals, often their drive does not achieve the kind of success they would expect as motorists warn each other of their presence at a particular point, making them turn their vehicles to take alternative routes to escape punishment. There may be cases in which motorists do not heed the signal of the traffic police to stop and speed away.
In the past five years the state has recorded around 300 deaths in road accidents on an average every year. According to the police and road transport officials, most of the accidents were caused due to rash and negligent driving and could have been avoided had the motorists followed road discipline. The drives by the police and transport department officials against errant motorists do not appear to have brought significant change. One reason is the understaffing of the traffic police which prevents them from establishing a ubiquitous presence. The traffic police need to post their men at busy intersections and other places where they can spot violations and penalise the violators on the spot. They need to keep changing the roads where the men would be posted in order to keep the surprise element on to instill fear in the minds of the motorists. The amounts of fine also matter in a state where people have comparatively higher incomes. The fines must be higher. Not only that, the fines should be combined with suspension of driving licence. The police claim that they recommend suspension of licences of motorists for various violations but the transport department sits over the recommendations.
The central government had amended the rules to make fines for traffic violations deterrent and even notified them. However, new fines have not been implemented in the state, probably because the politicians in power fear a popular reaction. They have to understand, and they must make people understand, that heavy fines are to deter violations in order to save human lives. Though the state had announced that it would implement the new fines in 2020 there are no signs of it. Everybody – the politicians in power, the officials of the police and transport departments and the motorists – must show deep commitment to saving human lives including their own. They should not be lax in enforcing or following traffic rules and must tell themselves every morning that they would bring down the number of deaths in road accidents in Goa from 300 to zero.