With summer having set in and the temperature soaring, motorists may just want to leave their helmets behind before embarking upon a ride, to avoid the acute discomfort caused by perspiration.
But the Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) is no mood for excuses. Since more people will be flouting the helmet rule during the ‘dog days', they have upped their vigilance.
Early this year, the State government increased the ‘compounding fee' attached to each offence as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act. Earlier, those violating the mandatory use of the helmet provision had to pay a fine of Rs. 50, but now the fine has become Rs. 100. If the person violates the same provision again, a fine of Rs. 300 could be charged.
Last year alone, the CCTP nabbed nearly 3.49 lakh motorists who were riding without helmets, and the total fine amount collected was around Rs. 1.79 crore.
This year, until April 21, they have fined over 2.85 lakh motorists, leading to a total fine amount of Rs 1.83 crore. “We are enforcing the rule seriously,” said Sanjay Arora, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic).
Traffic police inspectors say that till last year, they were somewhat lenient with helmet rule offenders, but not this time.
“Now people are a little frightened as they were fined on the spot and given a receipt too. Not many are violating the rule, or at least, they place a helmet on the bike, and then wear it when they see us,” said a police inspector on Kamarajar Salai.
Usually, during peak hours, the police are busy regulating traffic. “When we are free, we conduct surprise checks. We will be doing this throughout this summer, as motorists will be uncomfortable due to the heat, and this can lead to accidents, which can be fatal, if they are not wearing helmets. We have been instructed to reduce the number of accidents in our respective jurisdictions,” said the inspector.
However, traffic policemen are not inhuman. “We are usually lenient with senior citizens who find it difficult to wear a helmet in the heat. We also usually let off people who have an ailment,” said the inspector.
The monitoring will become even more stringent once the Integrated Traffic Management System is in place. “Once all the traffic signals are fitted with cameras, it will be even easier to zero-in on violators.
The cameras will capture a picture and read the number plate of the vehicle. We will then deliver these pictures to the address of the offenders. This means that those who do not wear helmets will be easily nabbed,” said a senior traffic police officer.