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Mumbai still gets behind the wheel in high spirits

‘Don’t drink and drive’ was the rallying cry for this year’s road safety campaign. Everyone, right from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, counselled everyone to curb the practice of getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol. But obviously a lot of people weren’t listening.

Eye Checkup
A free eye examination camp for cab drivers at the domestic airport was organised by Borivli RTO. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Mumbai traffic police caught 181 people driving drunk during the first 10 days of the year. All this while the campaign, which ended yesterday, was on. Drink-driving is responsible for 70 per cent of road fatalities in India. In these 10 days, 6,836 cases of jumping signals were reported, 5,145 bikers were caught without helmets, and 1,651 were stopped for cutting lanes. In addition, 2,452 people were nabbed for drink-driving between December 22 and 31.

ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN: A flop show

A road safety campaign far away from the roads
Road to safety in Mumbai only on paper
BMC: Road safety is not our duty
Several schools bunk road safety campaign
Potholed flyovers miss safety lesson

Not enough posters to promote road safety
Most hospitals in the dark about campaign
In pictures: Motorists breaking traffic norms

“We can enforce rules, but safety lies in the hands of the people. Jumping signals is a serious problem that can lead to disastrous accidents,” said Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner of police (traffic). “It is sad to see that people continue to breach traffic rules and so many motorists are being pulled up,” said a transport expert.

The efficacy of the whole campaign was undermined by the fact that RTOs conducted testing of red and amber lights on cars, checks to see if people wear seat belts, checks on taxis and autos, drives against speeding of vehicles and those with fancy number plates, all inside the RTO premises.

“The exercise seems superficial as it is followed only during this period and then forgotten. The education part is taken care of by authorities, but enforcement doesn’t happen 24X7,” said AV Shenoy, a transport expert. “Taxi drivers didn’t benefit much as they were mainly informed about licensing and switching to e-meters,” said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union. All three RTOs of Tardeo, Andheri and Wadala had held special sessions for cabbies.

Officials from RTOs said that they have done everything possible within their means. “We have conducted several drives on various issues and tried our best to spread knowledge and discipline during this campaign,” said an official on condition of anonymity. He also claimed that there were quite a few drives in this period to examine the eyesight of drivers of taxis, buses and heavy vehicles, apart from health checkups and training of motorists.

Vital stats
Between Jan 1 and 10:

181
Cases of drink-driving were reported

6,836
People were caught jumping signals

5,145
Bikers were held without helmets

1,651
Were stopped for cutting lanesĀ 

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