Transport experts state that overloaded share autos could become death traps for commuters
Though the Regional Transport Officials (RTO) issued a list of dos and don'ts for the auto drivers at the Road Safety Fortnight that was recently inaugurated by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, it has failed to focus on the safety measures for lakhs of commuters who travel by autos on a daily basis.
Jam-packed: Despite the ongoing campaign, it has been observed that
auto drivers tend to overload their vehicles with passengers or luggage
Disaster in making
Despite the ongoing campaign to promote importance of following driving manners, it has been observed that auto drivers, especially those operating on a sharing basis, tend to overload their vehicles with passengers or luggage.
"I travel to my residence in a share auto that is stuffed beyond its carrying capacity. There are days when I even travel by sharing the driver's seat," said Raju Patel, a resident of Kandivli (E).
Apart from Kandivli, drivers across several areas in Mumbai and Thane, such as Bandra, Andheri, Kurla, Mulund, Dombivli, Kalyan, etc, ferry more than three passengers at one go.
According to transport experts, an auto rickshaw is capable of carrying load weighing 650 kg, of which 350 kg is a combination of its engine and the gas tank. If the number of people travelling in an auto is beyond four (including the driver), the vehicle's weight carrying capacity goes for a toss, thus putting the lives of the passengers at risk.
Sources from within the Transport department disclosed that auto drivers who flout safety norms, are often hand-in-glove with RTO officials. To ensure that they don't face the music for breaking rules, these drivers bribe the officials on a regular basis.
As a result of this nexus, auto drivers overload their vehicles with passengers in front of the officials.
"These rogue drivers say that they'll have to return empty, hence they ply more than three passengers at one time," said Thampi Kurien, auto union leader.
'Offenders are fined'
B Kalaskar, deputy RTO (Western), Andheri, said, "Once we receive a complaint, immediate action will be initiated against the errant driver. As a part of the ongoing road safety campaign, we have been asking auto drivers to drive safely and observe road and driving manners."
Seconding his opinion, T Chavan, an official from Wadala RTO, said, "Whenever we nab an offender, a fine is levied as per the offence."