| Shards of glass lie in a carpet on Rajarhat Road, where a pool car ferrying schoolchildren overturned on Friday morning. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Passengers have risen in revolt against reckless drivers and rogue conductors. Police have responded by carrying out arrests and stepping up vigilance. The state administration has risen from its slumber and promised to act.
Four weeks after the campaign for safer roads began in The Telegraph, there are some definite signs of change in attitude and action.
The biggest plus has been the growing awareness among people. The best example of this was when passengers on a speeding private bus 3D/1 forced it to a halt, complained to a traffic sergeant at the Elliot Road-AJC Bose Road crossing and ensured that the reckless driver was booked.
That was on September 13. Six days later, passengers on a minibus drew the attention of a traffic sergeant to how the conductor had abused and pushed a young woman off.
The level of awareness among passengers has surely risen over the past few weeks. They do not hesitate to approach the police with complaints against drivers or conductors, said Ranvir Kumar, the joint commissioner of police (traffic).
In keeping with the popular mood, a public interest litigation against reckless driving was filed in the high court on September 17. The state has been asked to file an affidavit on the matter.
In the past four weeks, 58 drivers have been arrested for accidents caused by reckless driving. Add to that six conductors of private buses and two autorickshaw drivers, all for misbehaving with passengers.
We have never arrested such a large number of rash drivers within a span of 30 days, admitted an officer of the traffic department.
According to Gyanwant Singh, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), the complaints against and arrests of rogue conductors was a first in the police files.
The day after the chief minister chaired a meeting on the matter, transport department officials met union leaders on Friday and rolled out a few measures to be implemented from Monday.
These include badges for bus drivers and conductors proclaiming how passenger-friendly they are, a commuter complaint box at bus depots, a daily awareness campaign among drivers and conductors, and a fortnightly review.