What the harsh law cannot do, a request can. Precisely the reason that traffic policemen in Thane on Tuesday flagged down errant motorists and, instead of penalising them, coaxed them into obeying traffic rules on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. All this, with some til-gul (sesame and jaggery) and a rose thrown in for good measure.
For about a couple of hours, the men in khaki waited at junctions and asked bikers without helmets and car drivers sans seat belts to stop but did not impose any penalty.
Inspector Shrikant Sonde said they decided to spread awareness about observing safety rules while driving. “We told errant bikers and drivers that rules should be followed not because a cop will penalise but because our folks are eagerly waiting for us to get home safely and they’d be hurt if something wrong happens to us,” said Sonde.
According to statistics, driving without seat belts or riding without helmets has claimed many lives in mishaps.
At least 60 car drivers without seat belts strapped were caught, while a minimum of 100 bikers riding without helmets were asked to stop. “We handed out til-gul and a rose and politely asked them to use a seat belt or wear a helmet the next time, said Sonde.
“For a change, we tried out this initiative, which people will remember for a long time and, hopefully, even heed. The whole idea was to spread awareness among people so that the number of road accidents comes down,” he said.
Did the effort bear any fruit? Sonde said it did. “Some of the bikers were so flustered at the nicety that they parked their two-wheelers and returned home to get their helmets. A few drivers lost no time to fasten the seat belt with a smile and thanks,” he said.