The next time you are waiting at a restaurant, be prepared for some food for thought. The Chennai City Traffic Police have started distributing paper table mats with awareness messages directed at a variety of road-users.

More than one lakh mats with messages on road safety for pedestrians, motorists and four-wheelers will be distributed in popular restaurants that attract significant number of people.

“Handing out pamphlets in signal junctions was pretty much symbolic. No one reads them. People just threw them away and went their way. But when someone is waiting at a restaurant table and has something in front of his or her eyes, the person will be compelled to read,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M.Shakeel Akhter.

Specific attention would be given to restaurants with attached bars, said traffic officials.

The belief is that when messages about the impact of drunk driving are right in front of their eyes, at least some would act responsibly.

Pointing out that in the case of road sense, learning through experience results in tragic consequences, Mr.Akhter said “If there is an attitudinal change even among 5 per cent of those who read the messages on the table mats, we would consider it a success.”

However, many lunch-time visitors at a busy restaurant on Rajaji Salai said awareness messages need to be packaged better. “Innovative design elements can be considered,” said J.Vijay, a customer service executive. “Awareness messages must be made more attractive and witty so that it will stick in our mind.”

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