Posts Tagged ‘Pune Traffic Police’


Whenever I drive to Mumbai, the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway or go to some institutes for lectures, I usually take the Kondhwa bypass to Katraj and then from there continue on the Bangalore bypass towards Mumbai. And every time I drive from there, I do so with extreme trepidation. I never know when a vehicle will cross me at one of the manmade openings on the road or when I’ll find someone popping over the hedge to cross the road.

Earlier, I would stay on the extreme left once I got onto the Katraj bypass, but now I can’t even do that because buses, six-seater autos and trucks, along with people, and parked on that side of the road. So I am forced to drive on the right. Then as one drives along the road and crosses the Bangalore bypass, one comes to a bridge which has six-seater autos parked right on the bridge, waiting for passengers. How does the Pune Traffic Police or even the Highway Police allow these vehicles to park there? No one knows.

This particular stretch of the highway has today become just another arterial road that people living in the city use to travel from home to office, and with the kind of sorry traffic sense Punekars are known for, I am not all surprised, that the accident that happened on June 11 on this stretch of road, did not happen earlier. Many Punekars use the city’s roads with contempt for traffic rules. They believe the rules are there, and if they can break it and keep breaking it, till they are either fined, knocked down, knock someone else down, kill someone or get killed (hopefully), the joyride at the expense of others will continue.

I was in Mumbai last weekend and the Pune effect has reached their too. I saw so many people jumping traffic signals it left me dismayed. I always thought Mumbaikars had more traffic sense than the average Indian, but I guess times change. I drove on the two-lane freeway to CST and marvelled at the ride I was having. And then on Tuesday I read about the drunk, female lawyer who drove on the wrong side of the freeway and killed two people. I didn’t think it was a dangerous stretch at all. I guess it is us humans who make it that. Just like the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

However, coming back to the streets of the city, I realise why the police really can’t do much. Their own rules are messed up. I am sure, they would like to pick up a cane and use it at free will on traffic offenders. In the early days they did, but now with citizens’ rights groups and traffic rights group in the forefront ready to make a noise about anything and everything, the cops often find themselves functioning with their hands tied behind their backs. The non-imposition of the helmet rule is a good example.

While I understand the Pune Traffic Police is doing a difficult job, my problem with their functioning is that their focus is on how much money they can bring in to their coffers. When they announce in a press release that they have collected `7 crores from the city’s errant motorists and riders, my first thought is “That’s a lot of law-breakers in this city!”

The other day I parked my car in a lane where the only two ‘no-parking’ boards were supposedly on one side of either end of the road. For regulars who live on that road or have offices there, it’s easy to know that the road even has ‘odd’ and ‘even’ parking days. But what does a stranger do when he enters the lane and finds cars parked on both sides? Was I supposed to look for ‘no-parking’ board at the beginning of the road or worry about the car in front in bumper-to-bumper traffic? And it wasn’t as if I was the only one parked on that side of the road. I asked the chap who had locked my wheel where the ‘no-parking’ boards were and he pointed vaguely in both directions. Then I asked him why other cars parked near mine had been spared. He pretended he hadn’t heard. Putting up boards in places which won’t be noticed is a great way for the cops to make money. There is no point complaining that they are short-staffed. The public, at least those who believe in following the law, are not interested in listening to these excuses from the Pune Traffic Police.

Pune also has seven MLAs and I would like to know how many times they have spoken for the betterment of Pune? How many of them have spoken up in the Assembly and pushed for an adequately manned police force if they want it to be a better city? Politicians want to make Pune a smart city. I wonder if they even know what the term means. If the Pune Police with all the help from the city’s politicians can’t improve the traffic in the city, Pune won’t be a smart city just a smartass city!

Advertisements

Another young life was snuffed out late last night – this one a cousin of my student – when a 21 year-old youth was thrown off the bike he was riding pillion on, when the bike collided against a bus. Every day, one picks up the newspaper and reads about two-wheeler riders being killed and the last line in the report invariably reads: The deceased was not wearing a crash helmet.

How many lives have been lost on the city’s roads to reckless driving either by the victim or the offender, is now beyond count. What was the fault of the kid sitting pillion on a two-wheeler, who lost his life? Whether it was the bus driver’s fault or the two-wheeler rider’s is really secondary now isn’t it? The young man who lost was just another victim of poor road sense and the fact that he didn’t have on a crash helmet.

A year or so ago, the local tabloid launched a huge campaign for the use of crash helmets, but like all other campaigns in this regard, this one too fell by the wayside and died a silent death. Aren’t crash helmets mandatory in so many other cities in the country? So, who is opposing this move so vehemently and why?

I joined a Facebook page launched by the Pune Traffic Police because I thought that they were finally doing something. Two months later I left the site in disgust, because all I saw on the page was how much money they had collected in fines in a week or a month, or grand moves for a new logo or something equally inconsequential. There seemed to be no effort by them to implement traffic rules or even bring about some semblance of order in the city’s traffic. They seemed to be on a grand PR exercise.

For example they had a drive to stop the use of fancy number plates and a couple of weeks ago I saw a report in the Pune Mirror which showed pictures of fancy number plates still in existence on cars owned by politicians or their friends. So basically the rules were not for the rich and influential. I also read that the traffic police had stated that they could not impose the helmet rule in the city. Why? They have no answers.

Pune has been voted the most accident-prone city in the country, when it comes to two-wheelers. Yet the administration has refused to make crash helmets mandatory. What stops them – a lack of will or pure indifference? Or are they waiting for the child of a VIP to get killed before they take action?

I have myself been involved in two-wheeler crashes and not every time was it my fault. But I survived only because of my helmet. Once it was right in front of Mobos opposite Wadia College. A friend and I were on our way to the airport on a scooter and we were hit from the rear by a speeding jeep trying to overtake a PMT bus which was behind us. We both fell off, and while he managed to get up quickly I couldn’t and rolled towards the oncoming bus. Fortunately for me the bus driver applied his brakes. Both of us had on helmets and I’d like to think it saved our lives as we hit the road.

Not a day goes by without my car being either nudged or bumped into by some two-wheeler rider. It has now come to a stage where I have to drive at below 40 kmph at most times because that a*****e (and I’m sorry there’s no other word to describe the errant rider or driver) is too busy either impressing his girl friend, chatting on his mobile phone or cutting lanes, without bothering about the traffic around him.

Flirting with death can only bring about one result. Why wait for that happen?