CHENNAI: With the liquor shops and bars along the arterial roads shut in Chennai following Supreme Court ban on sale of alcohol 500 metres from state and national highways from April 1, drunk driving cases in the city have come down by 20 per cent, according to data from the police.
While the first three months of the year — January, February and March - saw an average 2,423 drunk driving cases registered per month in Chennai, the average for the months post liquor ban — April and May — is 1,929.
Among the four police zones that the Chennai city is split into, it is the north zone that has recorded the most impressive performance. The area that comprises Flower Bazaar and Vyasarpadi had 398 cases in April and only 53 cases in May — a vast improvement from the average 431 cases per month till then.
On the other hand, west zone (Ambattur, Avadi, Poonamallee) recorded the maximum number of drunk driving cases from January to May — 4,754 — almost twice the number of cases recorded by the East (Egmore, Triplicane), which recorded 2,609 cases. West zone recorded 1,743 cases during the months of April and May while East recorded 1,011 cases in the same period.
According to V Sasi Mohan, Deputy Commissioner (Traffic-East zone), the predominantly urban north and south zones, where Anna Salai, Old Mahabalipuram Road and East Coast Road pass, show a bigger decline in driving under the influence of liquor than the outlying east and west districts that aren’t intertwined by state or national highways. The data also show that suburbs contribute a major chunk to the drunk driving cases — the suburban east and west districts together accounted for 7,363 of the 11,128 cases recorded from January to May.
“Despite awareness campaigns and closure of liquor shops, drunk driving continues to remain a problem in the city. The only way to combat it is through stricter legislation,” said Sasimohan.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Traffic (Planning) Julius Christopher said drunk drivers are given back their licences once they pay a fine ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 in the court.
“We are still penalising them according to the Motor Vehicles Act ,1988,” he said. The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2016, which raises the fine for drunk driving from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 has been passed by the Lok Sabha, and is awaiting approval of Rajya Sabha.