The city roads may be synonymous with unruly traffic but police consider modern day driving rules as too advanced for motorists.
“I don’t think Patna is ready for (implementation of) rules such as wearing seat belts and prohibition on use of cellphones while driving. These are kind of advanced rules and here we are still focusing on basic rules like zebra crossing and traffic signals. Our focus is on proper traffic regulation and smooth vehicular movement on the streets as of now,” said Jayant Kant, the city SP, holding additional charge of traffic.
Traffic police are observing Road Safety Week in the city from January 12 through display of banners and posters listing traffic rules and public announcements on perils of rash driving at the Dakbungalow, R-Block, Income Tax and Boring Road roundabouts among others.
Traffic experts were quick to heap scorn on the traffic SP’s outlook. “He (the traffic SP) is making a mockery of the Road Safety Week by not lending due importance to the implementation of the rules. Does the traffic SP think that car owners from Patna do not go to other big cities and see how rules are followed? It shows he neither has any vision nor is he serious about his job. He is on additional charge and does not possess the necessary knowledge. It is high time that the city is given a dedicated traffic SP, who is knowledgeable in regulation of traffic,” said wing commander (retired) Narendra Kumar, honorary secretary, Automobile Dealers’ Association of Bihar.
With the traffic police turning a blind eye towards implementation of traffic norms, residents also seem to have got accustomed to unruly driving conditions on the streets.
Some of the most common traffic violations in the city include use of cellphone while driving, which attracts a fine of Rs 100 at the first instance and Rs 300 for every subsequent offence, overtaking dangerously and improper use of headlights, which attract similar penalty. All three are chargeable offences under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act. Illegal racing on the road can attract a fine of Rs 500 or imprisonment up to one month under Section 189 of the Motor Vehicles Act or both. Causing disturbance in free flow of traffic, an offence under Section 201 of the Motor Vehicles Act, can attract a fine of Rs 50 per hour.
“I have grown up in this city watching people talk over the cellphone while driving and not using seat belts. I commute more than 20km daily and it has now become a habit for me not to wear the seat belt while driving. Even during the ongoing Road Safety Week, the cops have never caught me or charged fine for not wearing the seat belt. These traffic rules are for our safety but if the traffic police don’t ensure their proper implementation, then no one is going to follow them,” said Kundan Singh, a resident of Danapur.
Prashant Kumar, a resident of Ashok Rajpath, said: “How can you expect the traffic police officer, who rides his bike without a helmet, to charge you for using the cellphone? Talking over the phone is among the common traffic rule violation in the city. As I never see the traffic police nabbing offenders, it has become a habit for me also to talk over the phone while driving,” said Prashant.
The traffic SP also shrugged off his responsibility when asked about the reason behind the non-implementation of the no helmet-no petrol diktat issued by the district administration in March, 2012.
“The district administration issued the order. Hence, the district transport office is responsible for its implementation. I still claim that around 90 per cent of the bikers on the city roads can be seen wearing helmets,” said the SP.
Through an order dated March 29, 2012, then district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh had directed petrol pumps to refuse fuel to those bikers who do not wear helmets. The directive was initially enforced strictly, but almost two years down the line, the rule, just like so many others, is being flouted with impunity.
Drivers stopping their vehicles before the stop line at traffic signals was the only positive effect of the Road Safety Week.
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