BENGALURU: Drunk driving cases in Bengaluru rose to a whopping 73,741 cases in 2017, up from 59,028 in the previous year. But the number of such cases would easily have been much higher if the city traffic police had checked for drunk driving even in the daytime, especially on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. At present, the traffic police conduct checks only at nights mainly due to severe shortage of manpower.
Tipplers take advantage of the situation and drive to watering holes around the city during daytime without any hesitation or fear. They are well aware of the fact that the traffic police do not conduct drunk driving checks before the sunset. The discovery of whether a motorist was driving drunk in the daytime or not comes to light only in case of a serious road accident causing death or serious injury. MN Sreehari, an expert who has been an advisor to the state government on traffic-related issues, told The New Indian Express that lack of manpower with Bengaluru Traffic Police, high road length in the city, a sharp increase in the city’s vehicle population -- and subsequently violations -- prevent them from ensuring that all rules are followed.
“It is not that the police cannot check during the day. But, traffic management responsibilities during the day make them take up random checks for drink driving only during the offpeak hours of the night (the hours when drunk motorists are most likely to be driving on the roads),” he said. Senior traffic police officials said there were three main reasons for not conducting drunk driving checks in the daytime.
Firstly, the severe (40 per cent) manpower shortage makes efficient drunk driving checks during daytime impossible. Traffic police which register around 5,000 drunk driving cases per month, have also filed a few cases during day hours. Secondly, they fear long traffic queues due to check posts being set up during day hours.
As it is, irresponsible driving among Bengaluru motorists causes traffic snarls across the city. Another traffic expert pointed out that, added to that, if drunk drive check points are set up in the daytime, the traffic chaos would only multiply. Instead of ensuring a smooth flow of traffic, drunk driving check points would only add to traffic woes, and more number of traffic policemen would be required at one particular point to mitigate traffic jams due to conducting drunk driving checks than without it. “It is impractical to check all vehicles during daytime as it would cause major traffic bottlenecks,” a senior traffic police official said.
Thirdly, there is no automated technology for drunk driving checks like those used in remote monitoring of traffic violations such as parking violations, jumping traffic signals, or rash driving. These involve camera-fitted surveillance that generates automated fines for violators. The checks, at present, require manual involvement of traffic policemen, even if they have breathalysers as the technology element to arrive at whether detected alcohol limits are above normal or not.
Self-discipline is crucial for road safety
Bengaluru Traffic Police have stressed that although all drunk driving cases are sternly dealt with, it would be ‘impractical’ to check all the vehicles on roads during the daytime. Experts argue that rather than only holding the police responsible, blame should also be laid on the motorists and the agencies employing them. They must ensure that they do not consume alcohol and drive under its influence. “Owners of the vehicles and civic agencies like Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike should ensure that the driver of their vehicle does not drink and drive,” R Hithendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) told The New Indian Express.