A public consultative meeting organised by city police as part of the Road Safety Week celebrations here on Saturday was neither a formal annual event aimed at sending an exhaustive report to the Government nor a publicity exercise to gain prominence in the media.
Instead it was a genuine effort towards obtaining constructive ideas from road users, according to Police Commissioner P. Kannappan.
Presiding over the meeting at a marriage hall in Kamarajar Salai, he said that road accidents could be avoided to a large extent if there was an attitudinal change among people who violated traffic rules without even an iota of guilt. A change in the mind set of road users was the need of the hour apart from administrative issues such as good road engineering and enforcement of rules.
“People should shun the habit of pointing out at others' follies as an excuse for violating rules. They should cultivate the attitude of being a change agent. You start adhering to the rules strictly and set an example for others to follow suit. I know that you all have grievances, even against the police. I do not deny that. I'll give a patient hearing to every one of you even if it takes an entire day,” he told the gathering.
The meeting was attended by almost all top police officials and Regional Transport Officers. Office-bearers of merchants' associations, auto-rickshaw drivers, school bus drivers, members of resident welfare associations and many others participated. Arrangements were made for audio as well as video recording of views expressed by them apart from scribes engaged to take notes. The participants were also provided with papers to give their ideas in writing.
When some of them began giving lengthy speeches, the Commissioner intervened and said: “I know all of you are good speakers. But this is not a public meeting to display your oratorical skills. There is no need to begin your speech with salutations to me and others. Just introduce yourself and come to the point. The aim is only to obtain ideas to ensure your safety on the roads,”
Later, the participants came out with various suggestions such as decreasing the breadth of medians on main roads, streamlining share auto-rickshaws, insisting upon government bus drivers to park their vehicles close to bus stops, clearing stray cattle on the roads, installing interconnected automatic traffic signals in roads with too many signals, controlling the speed of sand laden lorries and insisting upon them to cover the heap of sand with tarpaulin.
Other suggestions included putting up a fence between the roads and footpath, constructing multi-storied parking facilities in all possible places and not to invest public money on building sub-ways and pedestrian over bridges which were not used by many.
Some of the speakers admitted that they had violated the rules on many occasions and vowed not to repeat them.
A shop owner from Venkalakadai Street complained that the police were not allowing any vehicle to be parked in the street as it was frequented by top government officials.
But, a popular textile showroom in the locality alone was allowed to park five vehicles of their customers.
“This is in no way fair on the part of the police. Other shop owners also should be allowed to park at least three lorries in the day time to load and unload the goods,” he urged.