Drunk drivers beware! Mumbai traffic cops to get hi-tech breathalyzers

Mumbai’s perennial hot button topic, traffic, was the focus of a press meet yesterday morning.

Milind Bharambe at the Traffic Training Institute. He said the initiatives were all going to change the traffic landscape in the city soon.  Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Milind Bharambe at the Traffic Training Institute. He said the initiatives were all going to change the traffic landscape in the city soon.  Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Mumbai’s perennial hot button topic, traffic, was the focus of a press meet yesterday morning.

The Traffic Training Institute in Mazgaon was the venue where the Mumbai Traffic Police came together with the non-profit Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) and United Spirits Limited (USL), for the launch of a ‘Road to Safety’ programme to make Mumbai roads safe. The most important prong of this programme, where traffic officials will first be trained for three days, is its ‘Never Drink and Drive’ initiative.

Milind Bharambe, Joint Commissioner Police (IPS), Mumbai Traffic Police, said at the inauguration yesterday, that the city police are ready to get a new lot of breathalyzers that are a march over the current ones.

“We will be getting 56 of these breathalyzers, in about a week’s time,” he stated, adding, “The first eight of these will be used at different locations.”

Bharambe said that these modern breathalyzers, “are indigenously made, and will be the most advanced in the country. All data will be taken on the spot and sent to the central server, your breath will be ‘frozen’ then and there.” Bharambe said this eliminates the scope for any “hanky-panky.”

Bharambe said in response to questions that, “two of Mumbai’s most challenging days traffic wise, which are during Ganeshotsav and Navratri are behind us. During Diwali, there is comparatively less strain on the traffic cop.”

Traffic cop’s best friend
Giving a big thumbs up to technology, like e-challans, Bharambe said, ‘technology helps reduce interface between the people, and the constable. Technology is the traffic cop’s best friend.’ “It mitigates the flashpoints between a cop and those caught by him. There is less scope for arguments that have potential to escalate into violence.” He admitted that we are seeing more cases in which the traffic constable is becoming a target of a driver being pulled up, though he denied that these cases are demoralizing for our force. “I do not think so,” he said in response to a question.

Asked about the success of the helmet drive, he said, “You tell me. We have seen more people wearing helmets, so it has been successful. We do though need to make a huge push for pillion riders to wear helmets too. Currently, people cite problems for pillion riders, like where will we keep the other helmet, etc. We need to tackle that too,” he smiled.

Higher fines as deterrent
There is the prospect of higher fines, which is still at legislation stage, which will act as a huge deterrent. “Fines for breaking traffic rules are set to zoom. Currently, a R100 fine is going to go up to R1,000 if legislation comes through,” said Dr Rohit Baluja, president, IRTE, while Bharambe said that these initiatives were all going to change the traffic landscape in the city, quite soon. Currently, though, as we careen into party season, Mumbai needs to hold its breath for the breathalyzer.

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