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'Driving without licence is akin to carrying a gun'

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Road Safety Campaign at Police Gymkhana in Marine Lines yesterday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said motorists driving without licences was equivalent to people roaming around with loaded guns.

He also hinted that several ministers, including himself, were mulling amendments in the existing traffic laws and making them more stringent for motorists caught driving without a licence, and non-issuing of licences to those who are declared unfit to take control of the wheel.


What’s happening? Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan shares a word with Commissioner of Police Satyapal Singh at the launch of the Road Safety Campaign at Police Gymkhana in Marine Lines yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Chavan said, “Presently, if someone is caught driving without a licence, then the person is made to pay a fine of only Rs 700, but there is no jail term. Hence, there is a need to make amendments in the existing law or create guidelines for a stricter action.”

Alarming stats
While 13,000 people lost their lives and 38,000 were injured in numerous road accidents in the state last year, 1.7 lakh cases of signal jumping, 42,000 cases of lane cutting and 3,000 cases of rash driving were registered in the city itself. Besides, the number for drunk driving cases for last year stood at 14,220.

As per Transport department statistics, 78 per cent of accidents happen due to driver’s fault. Statistics also revealed that every six minutes a road mishap occurs in the country and the time frame would reduce to just three minutes by 2020 if the prediction comes true.

Chavan said, “The names and details of those caught driving under the influence of alcohol should be published on the website and in newspapers.” Over 41,000 licences were cancelled since 2007 after drivers were caught driving after drinking.

Swarm of vehicles
The chief minister also expressed his concern for the rate at which vehicles were multiplying in the state. Every year about 20 lakh new vehicles are registered in the state and the number goes up 11 per cent annually.

Chavan said, “The number of vehicles is a serious issue that needs to be looked into.” Transport department officials said rules such as buyers cannot purchase vehicles without driving licences should be implemented.

Nearly 250 driving licences are issued by the RTO each month. Sources in the RTO office claimed that limited manpower affects verification process of those applying for licences.

For better drivers
Principal Secretary (Transport) S K Sharma said, “We want to improve driving skills of people applying for licences. So we are creating test tracks and adding 150 inspectors and 300 sub-inspectors at RTOs.”

City’s Guardian minister Jayant Patil, who was present at the event, suggested the RTO and Traffic police department should record traffic violations using CCTV cameras.

Patil said, “We should identify important roads and junctions, and record all those who violate traffic rules. A system can be created for sending challans to the violators.” 

National avg of fatal accidents
Bihar: 36%
Gujarat: 27%
Maharashtra: 19%

Fault during accidents
>> Drivers: 78%
>> Technical glitch: 6%
>> Roads: 5%
>> Others (weather, etc.): 5%
>> Pedestrians: 4%
>> Cyclists: 2%

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