The country woke to the shocking news of Gopinath Munde’s death on Tuesday but motorists hardly change their habit of jumping signals at key intersections.
In absence of non-functioning digital signals, people, especially motorcycle riders, tend to overrule the hand signals by traffic police personnel. The police, on the other hand, blame manpower shortage for not being able to penalise all the traffic rule violators.
“Jumping a signal is a very serious offence as it endangers the lives of many. In Patna, this is quite common. A cop asks a group of motorists to stop but many a time they just zoom off. It has been seen that they wait for a while and once the cop’s attention is diverted elsewhere, they just make their move. The most common spots are the Kotwali T-junction, Hartali Mor and the Income Tax roundabout. The Dakbungalow roundabout is heavily manned and the area witnesses fewer violations. Most of the times, the bikers and even the four-wheelers violate it in the evening and late evening hours,” an officer at Traffic police station said.
The penalty for jumping a signal carries a fine of Rs 500 according to Section 176 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The police said the violators were however difficult to catch.
“We are short-staffed as at present we re working with around 200 men. We need 600 people to control the traffic effectively in the city. With such staff crunch, our main motive is to coordinate traffic movements and make sure that the traffic keeps on moving and there are no snarls. We just cannot run behind someone who has jumped a signal as we are not capable of it at present. If at all caught, the fine is taken and the papers are thoroughly checked,” the officer added.
Even politicians are aware of the situation but hardly any action can be taken on the ground. Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi wrote on Facebook: “Very sad that Gopinath Munde died of road accident. Lakhs of people die every year of such accidents. It takes years to get compensation. Two-three years back, my driver was crushed to death by a speeding car in front of my house. Till now, I am fighting battle in court for compensation.”
A policeman at the Kotwali T-junction said things go haywire after dusk.
“In Patna, everyone seems to be in a hurry always. It becomes very difficult for one person to handle traffic at this spot after dark. We have been given the glowing batons, which emit red and green colours. But very few pay any heed to it. There have been times when a colleague of mine, who too has been posted here, has caught hold of a biker trying to zoom off. But most of the times, it is difficult to catch them,” the constable said. The police said their anti-race driving cell used to detain rash bikers regularly.
“It is mainly the bikers who don’t pay any heed to traffic rules. The cell catches gets hold them frequently,” the officer said.
Commuters also said the police needed to be on strict vigil. “Jumping red signals is very dangerous but it has been quite common in Patna. However, we all are to be blamed for it and no one can say that they have never done it before. The police should think about ways to stop it and use its resources for the same. This offence can easily take lives of others. The police should focus less on offences like wrong parking and take this and the use of cellphones while driving more seriously,” said Arvind Kumar, who moves in a four-wheeler in and around the city.
It’s also quite common in traffic intersections that motorists start honking to violate red signal.