BENGALURU: City teens and adults in their early 20s rule the chart when it comes to illegal racing on streets, says R Hithendra, IPS, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Bengaluru. "They mostly do it for the kick," he adds.
"They race on roads because they do not know how to enrol for legal racing or because it is an expensive sport," says Anand Somayya, a professional racer in the city who participates in national championships.
Most street racing is done on bikes. "My son and his friends were racing on a borrowed bike in the National Games Village campus in Koramangala on Tuesday night, when they crashed into a parked car,” says Kala, a domestic maid who lives in Vivek Nagar. “He is under treatment now for lower abdominal injuries.”
On MG Road, after 11.30pm, rich kids of the city come out to race in their Audis and Mercedes, informs Megha D'souza, 36, whose office is on MG Road. "A few also race cars on Residency Road after 3 pm on Sundays," she adds. The city traffic police office says that most cases of racing are booked on weekend and holiday nights.
Hithendra observes that there are no favourite spots for racing in the city. "They do it on congested roads and on isolated stretches at their whim and fancy," he says."Nice Road is infamous for hosting these races. It is mostly bike races and fewer car races," says Sanjana (name changed), a resident who takes the route on her way back home from office. Then there are smaller streets around Wilson Garden, the Ashoka Pillar stretch and Tannery Road, says the JP Nagar resident.
The city police booked 1,983 cases of racing and overspeeding in 2016, but the figure this year has spiked to 2,141 and that is only for cases booked till this August. Northeast Bengaluru saw most cases of overspeeding and racing this year, according to the data obtained from Bengaluru City Traffic Police. "A lot of these cases are of racing, mostly on bike. It is usually teenagers to 23-year-olds," says Hithendra commenting on the cases booked so far.
Catching these racers is tough, he says. "I can't ask my constable to jump before them to stop them," adds the official. A traffic police constable, who didn't wish to be named, says, "If I get a glance at the vehicle number then I note it down and go to the racer’s residence, but there are times when they just zoom off and I don't even get a proper look at the number plate".
Clever cops trap them on the flyover
City traffic record shows that most of the cases booked in the city this year are from Yelahanka (616 cases of racing and trial speed). While one assume that Yelahanka is a popular hotspot for street racers, that is not the case. The high rate of cases in the area are attributed to the presence interceptor vehicles that track overspeeding and a clever strategy devised by the constables in Yelahanka traffic police station. Says Hithendra, "As soon as they spot a group of racers at one side of the Hebbal flyover, they alert the team about it on another side of the flyover. It takes a good 20 minutes to cross the flyover, so the strategy is to block them on this flyover that leads to Yelahanka."
What does the law say?
According to Section 189 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, those who permit or take part in a race or trial of speed of any kind between motor vehicles in any public place shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with a fine which may extend to `500, or with both.
Parents can also be booked
If a minor is caught racing, the parent faces imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both for allowing unauthorised persons to drive vehicles.