It has been observed that motorists have been flouting traffic rules and do not have any fear of the Mumbai Traffic Police as well as penalties. What measures is the department taking to instil fear among motorists?
We are planning to form surprise squads to crack down on errant drivers, besides the several other measures that are already in place. We have been educating people how not to break traffic rules, through our sustained campaigns, be it road safety week or other initiatives. A new measure that we have initiated is using the Public Address system to embarrass offenders — vehicle number of those violating traffic rules is announced in public using speakers. The state government has already made a representation to the Union government asking that the penalty amount for traffic offences be increased as the offences come under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which is a central act and not of an individual state.
Despite traffic police coming down heavily on drunk drivers, it has not been a deterrent and statistics show drink-driving hasn't reduced.
The success against drink-driving can be seen from the total number of fatalities on the road. Way back in 2008, around 650 people died on Mumbai's roads, now it has come down to around 450. This shows that the drink-driving campaign has been fruitful. Every week, around 1,000 such offenders are brought to book. Last year, over 16,000 were caught driving under the influence of alcohol. This has helped in reducing fatalities on roads.
There have been plans to book traffic offenders using smart card driving licence readers, but it hasn't taken off. Won't it help in coming down heavily against offenders?
Two years ago, the proposal to procure card readers was moved from the department to the state government, it is still awaiting clearance. There should be funds to get these readers. But once these card readers are in, it will be of immense help to discipline motorists. It will become very easy to check history of offenders and also to know if an individual has been repeatedly ignoring traffic rules.
What about CCTV cameras that have been installed at various traffic junctions of Mumbai? Aren't they useful to book motorists?
The ones that are presently there are for surveillance, not for enforcement of traffic rules. A separate set of CCTV cameras will have to be installed to grab images of vehicles violating traffic rules, along with their registration number plates. These images will help in sending penalty receipt to the motorists' residences. But this is possible only after the project by the state government to set up 6,000 CCTVs across Mumbai is implemented and there is standardisation in the designs of vehicle registration number plates.