The road to reason

Last Updated 21 November 2017, 19:07 IST

The quintessential Indian's behaviour on the road has attained a notoriety that borders on cult status now.

Accidents, rash driving, rule violations, fights  - these are normal sights on  our roads on any given day and hardly raise eyebrows now.  
Fines and reprimands seem to hardly work as deterrents and people continue to indulge in dangerous acts with impunity.  

In light of this, the  Bengaluru Traffic Police are turning towards more positive ways to instill a sense of responsibility in motorists by making offenders watch a  25-minute instructional documentary instead of slapping a fine on them.  

Implemented on a pilot basis for now, the police have set up a stall for the video screening at Forum Mall for now.

It will be rolled out in ten other parts of the city in the coming weeks. With segments focussing on the  importance  of wearing helmets and seatbelts, the risks of using mobile phones when driving and the dangers of drunken
driving, along with a piece on the life of a constable manning traffic in the city, the video has been much appreciated.

R Hitendra, additional commissioner of police (traffic), says, "So far, everybody has given a good feedback and we have been getting requests to extend this  initiative to other parts of the city as well. We are scouting for more places now."

Asked about the inception of the idea, he says, "This is not a new idea, it was being done earlier also, but the offenders were being taken to the traffic police stations or other such places to watch the video. The novelty of this strategy lies in the fact that we are  showing the documentary in public places like malls."

The move has got a thumbs up from regular commuters.   "There is a feeling that the traffic police is only concerned about collecting fines. Even though they collected a record amount in fines this year, this approach highlights their concern and focus on our safety," says Ashwini S, a professional who was herself involved in an accident a year back and underwent a surgery for the same.  

When told about how people were grumbling about wasting time, Ashwini has a ready retort.

"Those who  say that they would rather pay the fine than watch  the video don't seem to know the value of their lives. When traffic police is putting an effort to create awareness regarding this issue, I feel it should be appreciated." The long duration of the video is exactly what will deter offenders, feels Laxmi Narayan Agrawal, a software engineer and enthusiastic rider.

"Most people who ride on footpaths or jump signals do so to save time. This is precisely what will be lost if they are caught; they can't simply pay a fine and speed away."

Laxmi Narayan laughs when he says that he saw a similar initiative in a television series last year.

"My mother was watching it and I remember thinking it was a good idea. Apart from this move, the traffic police can also look at incentivising people who upload pictures of traffic offenders on social media. Though an option to do something like this exists, I feel many are still hesitant to take the extra step so they need to be motivated."

(Published 21 November 2017, 12:18 IST)

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