These loads can be lethal

 Across the city, vehicles carry material they aren’t supposed to carry. In the process, they endanger the lives of road-users.

An overwhelming number of goods vehicles carry material too heavy or too big for them, and police say the penalty is too meagre to be a deterrent.

It isn’t just a harmless traffic violation. Heavy iron rods and pipes are ferried with no regard for safety.

They can gore road-users to death in case of sudden braking or accident.

The number of violations booked is going up steeply. In 2016, police booked 78,944 cases, and the number rose to 1.97 lakh in 2017. This year, till May 31, they have booked 1.32 lakh cases. That indicates a four-fold increase in just two years.

The penalty is just Rs 100. R Hitendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), says “People don’t worry about paying the fine two or three times. The only solution to curb this menace is to increase the fine.”

A draft law to amend the Motor Vehicles Act has been pending in parliament for a year.

Police say they cancel the licences of repeat offenders.

“The offences are repeating because people find carrying goods in smaller private vehicles a cheaper option than hiring big vehicles. Even if they do multiple trips, it works out economical,” he says.

At night and in the wee hours of the morning, when visibility is poor, the risks are higher.

A senior officer with the east division of the Bengaluru Traffic police says smaller vehicles with heavy material ply inside the city rather than on the highways.

“We book them not only for violating permit conditions but also for rash and negligent driving,” he says.

A business sometimes uses multiple modes of transport---lorries, vans and autos---to have its goods delivered.

“So paying a fine of Rs 100 even 10 times is no big deal,” says the officer, who wants it raised at least to Rs 500.

B Dayananda, Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety, says the department educates drivers about the dangers of carrying heavy material.

“Iron rods jutting out can be deadly,” he says. “If the fine is raised, it might bring down the offences.”

Will act: Minister Thammanna

Transport Minister D C Thammanna says he will curb the menace.

“Carrying material beyond permissible limits is a serious violation. I have called for a meeting of the transport department and police to see how best we can deal with this problem. Protruding iron roads and other material could claim lives,” the new minister told Metrolife.

Rising numbers

2016  78,944

2017 — 1.96 lakh

2018* — 1.32 lakh

(* till May 31)

Spot death

A 22-year-old youth died in Yelahanka recently when a vehicle carrying iron rods fell on its side. The rods came crashing down on him, killing him on the spot.

Lucky escape

A Bengaluru couple were driving to Mangaluru. An Omni van, carrying iron roads on the top, was following them. It braked suddenly. The rods pierced the car through the rear window came out of the front windshield. To their luck, the couple in the car escaped unhurt.

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