Are we a city of traffic violators?

Traffic violation in Brigade road and MG road junction. (DH Photo/Ranju P)

Bengalureans seem to be paying little heed to traffic rules. According to Bengaluru Traffic Police data, some 71.7 lakh cases of traffic violations were booked between January and October this year. This is reason for grave concern as violations of traffic rules often result in accidents, fatalities and injuries. Although wearing of helmets has been made compulsory for both two-wheeler riders and their pillions, the rule is widely flouted. Indeed, helmetless riding is the most common traffic violation in Bengaluru, with 14.3 lakh riders and 11.6 lakh pillions booked for this offence in the first 10 months of this year. Parking rules were violated a million times and almost four lakh drivers were caught driving into no-entry roads. To the credit of Bengaluru Traffic Police, it has tried every trick in the book to make people follow traffic rules. Its use of cameras has helped it nab violators. Traffic cops are levying fines. Traffic violations are being recorded in chip-based smart driving licences to help authorities record and monitor repeat offenders. Our traffic cops have even deployed men dressed like Yama, the God of Death, to warn people that violating traffic rules could result in death. Despite these efforts, traffic violations persist.

Many Bengalureans are likely to blame the government for the traffic offences. Two-wheeler riders, for instance, will complain that they are forced to indulge in zig-zag driving to avoid potholes and craters on the city’s roads. Likewise, the lack of adequate parking facilities compels car drivers to park their vehicles in ‘no-parking’ stretches on roads. These complaints are valid. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has been extremely lethargic in responding to people’s problems with the city’s perpetually dug-up or potholed roads.

However, we, the people, cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility to ensure our own safety as well as that of others on the city’s roads. Many of us jump traffic lights late at night. We follow traffic regulations only when we see a cop and want to avoid being fined. Those of us who hastily wear the car seat-belt on sighting a cop with a challan book, too, fall into this category. Many motorbike and scooter riders and their pillions prefer to carry their helmet than to wear it. Don’t they understand that the helmet is protective gear for the head? Wearing helmets was made mandatory to protect us from serious head injuries and yet we resist, even subvert this rule. There is a need for public awareness that traffic rules have been made not only to enable police to manage traffic on our roads but also for our own safety, whether as drivers, passengers, pillions or pedestrians.

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Are we a city of traffic violators?

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