In the last few days, the city police have been issuing notices to autorickshaw drivers found carrying students beyond the permitted capacity.
Traffic police teams positioned themselves near the school zones in the city and handed out the notices to the errant autorickshaw drivers. Notices were issued as a first step to warn the drivers from transporting students beyond the permitted capacity prior to initiating action against them.
The names of errant drivers, their vehicle registration number, and their cell phone number were noted down while issuing the notices.
The move was launched in the backdrop of several autorickshaws in the city taking children over and above the limit prescribed by the government.
Even as this drive was on, many autorickshaw drivers continued to take children beyond the prescribed limit.
It was with the objective of bringing in some regulation that the State government had issued an order a few years ago making it clear that autorickshaws could carry a maximum of five children up to the age of 14 or not more than three adults. However, this directive appears to remain only in paper if the continuing violation was any indication.
Many autorickshaw drivers in the city continue to brazenly flout the Motor Vehicle Act and the government order by taking students more than the permitted capacity. Some drivers were even taking 10 or more children in their autorickshaws by fixing a wooden plank.
In many cases, children shared the seat with the driver with their limbs dangling dangerously. Sensitisation meetings in the past on road safety and rule adherence besides imposition of fines against errant drivers have not had the desired effect.
Lack of strict enforcement of rules is a major reason for the continued violation, says M. Sekaran, member, District Road Safety Council, and a consumer activist.
It is better for the authorities concerned — the police and the Transport Department — to implement the rule in letter and spirit just when the schools reopened after the summer holidays, he says.
The district administration should percolate the message of transporting students safely in autorickshaws and other private vehicles to educational institution authorities at first. The schools should in turn create awareness among parents through parent-teacher associations urging them not to send their wards in overloaded autorickshaws and the safety risks involved, Mr. Sekaran says.
The police on their part say cooperation of parents is equally important on this issue. They say notices had been issued to over 120 overloaded autorickshaws in the last two days. Action as per law would follow if they failed to adhere to rules, they added.
It would be wise on the part of the official machinery to act before rather than organise special drives after an accident occurred, says Mr. Sekaran.