Sunday, June 04, 2017

Drink driving cases in Maharashtra doubled in 2016

Hindustan Times: Mumbai: Sunday, June 04, 2017.
The number of drink driving cases registered across Maharashtra shot up from just over 50,000 in 2015 to well over a lakh in 2016, according to data accessed by Hindustan Times under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The figures, from the Maharashtra Highway Safety Patrol (HSP), show that the number of drink driving cases fell by about 10% from 2014 to 2015 but then rose by an alarming 105% last year.
The total number of traffic offences registered – including drink driving – rose by a quarter in 2014 and 2015 but fell by about 5% in 2016 despite the sharp increase in drink driving cases.
Numerous police campaigns against drink driving have failed to curb the practice, the numbers suggest.
A senior Indian Police Service (IPS) official in the Maharashtra police, who did not wish to be named, said that a multi-pronged strategy was needed to bring down the number of cases of drink driving, along with measures such as permanently terminating the licences of repeat offenders.
RK Padmanabhan, additional director general of police, Maharashtra Highway Safety Patrol, said, “The increase in the number of cases shows increased enforcement action. It also shows there is more pressure on people not to drink and drive. Such enforcement action will reduce drink driving in the medium-term and long-term.”
A senior IPS officer who has served in the traffic department, and also did not wish to be named, said, “Apart from increasing fines for drink driving, offenders must be put behind bars for at least a day. For repeat offenders, there must be a law that permanently terminates the licence with no chance of getting a new one. These three things will act as deterrents.”
Another senior IPS officer who has served in the traffic department, said, “The actual number of people who drink and drive is much higher; we are not able to arrest that many of them. Apart from terminating licences and increasing fines, we need interventions at the right time.”
He added, “For example, in Mumbai, we have started writing to pubs and restaurants, asking them not to allow customers they know are drunk to drive, by holding on to their keys. We asked them to suggest that their customers use public transport or hire a driver instead.”
The officers pointed to mitigating factors in enforcing the law, such as a shortage of traffic cops and breathalysers, which must be calibrated regularly. They said traffic officials could be deployed for surprise checks at any time of the day or night. However, they added that the Supreme Court-ordered ban on liquor shops near state highways would curb drink driving to a large extent.