Most semi-trailers on State roads are longer, wider and taller than the norms prescribed under the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules
They are not only the biggest vehicles on Kerala roads, but the biggest violators too. Yet they often escape the scrutiny of the police and the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD).
While they are popularly known as ‘car gaadi’ for transporting brand-new cars and vehicles from manufacturing units to dealers, MVD personnel refer to them as semi-trailers.
Rule violations begin right from the point the vehicles are built. Central Motor Vehicle Rules say trailers must not be wider than 2.6 metres. But trailers built in workshops in States such as Haryana, Maharashtra and Nagaland are given a width of three metres to make them carry excess cargo.
“Worse, the length is illegally increased, though rules state the rear overhang [the body extending from the rear wheel edge to the tail end] must not be over 60 per cent of the wheelbase. Less said the better about illegal modifications to their height. All these make these vehicles prone to accidents,” said Ernakulam RTO B.J. Antony.
One such vehicle brought traffic to a standstill on Civil Lane Road, between Palarivattom police station and Palarivattom NH Bypass Junction, on Wednesday evening. The reason — it was so tall that power and telephone lines that came in its way. It took a pair of KSEB linemen to raise the lines using poles. The branches of a few trees also had to be chopped off to make way for the vehicle, which did not have a proper registration number.
All that was visible on the rusted body was HR-55. The series and registration number were deliberately scratched away. Though the police control room was alerted, the vehicle managed to travel a distance of over 4 km.
It crossed two major junctions that had heavy police presence. Surveillance cameras installed at Palarivattom and Vyttila junctions and a control room jeep parked at Palarivattom were of little help.
“Often, the vehicles have ramshackle bodies that pose grave danger to smaller vehicles as drivers fail to spot them through side rear-view mirrors,” Mr. Antony said.
He said all goods transport vehicles brought to RTO offices in Kerala for registration were measured and issued a ‘measurement certificate’. This was not the case in many States. However, enforcement personnel in Kerala often overlook rule violations. Most semi-trailers have damaged rear lights and missing reflectors which make their presence on roads extremely dangerous at night.
The police and MVD personnel have admitted their helplessness in enforcing norms. They say the semi-trailers are legally registered in other States, where rule violations are overlooked.
“They can be hauled up by forwarding our notice to the MVD of the State concerned. But it is doubtful whether the registering authority will act against them,” said Enforcement RTO N.K. Raveendranathan.
Though a fine of Rs.5,000 fine can be levied, it is not imposed as drivers do not carry such huge amounts with them. The best that can be done is to deny entry to rule violators at check posts. Automobile makers and dealers had to ensure only legal vehicles were used for transportation purposes, sources said.
Container lorries without proper lights and visible registration boards too pose a safety risk. The allegation is rife that the police and MVD officials seldom take action against container lorries though most of them are registered in Kerala.
Assistant Commissioner of City Traffic (East) P.P. Shams said the police could do little in this regard.
“Our personnel have been asked to divert semi-trailers and container lorries from Kundanoor and Muttom near Aluva to prevent them from entering the busy NH and NH Bypass, located within city limits, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.,” he said