While driving on the state highways, watch out for the highway police, because now they can also make you pay a fine for flouting traffic norms. Giving more teeth to the state highway police, the state government informed the Bombay high court on Wednesday that as per a circular issued on August 29, the highway police too have been given the powers of the traffic police to book people for violating the norms under the Motor Vehicle Act.
In a bid to curb the number of road accidents on highways across Maharashtra, the circular was issued by the home department as per the orders of the governor. “Earlier, the power to penalise overloaded vehicles, vehicles without head or tail lights, those carrying logs or metal pipes was given only to the traffic policemen. Now, even the highway police can impose fines on such vehicles which will keep them in check and help in reducing the number of accidents on state highways,” state government counsel Vinay Sonpal said.
The state’s decision was prompted by a petition filed by Dr Shyam Kulkarni who was seeking payment of medical aid provided to accident victims. However, the court had widened the scope of the case and asked the government to take measures to reduce accidents on highways.
Apart from empowering the highway police, the government has constituted a seven-member committee of the chief secretary and secretaries of the finance, public health, home, transport and public works departments to co-ordinate with the central government for effective setting up of trauma centres along the highways to aid accident victims within the “golden period” of one hour from the accident.
An affidavit submitted by government on Wednesday stated that a network of 32 trauma care units in public health sphere has been spread all over for providing medical treatment to victims of road accidents.
The government is also contemplating a toll-free number for accident victims by which a highly equipped ambulance will reach the destination within the golden period. The case will be heard by the court after two weeks.