Last Sunday, 12-year-old H. Shailaja died when a speeding two-wheeler rammed her father's motorcycle, near Raj Bhavan. The girl, who was riding pillion, was thrown off the bike and came under the wheels of a government bus.
Over-speeding is slowly turning into a silent epidemic that traffic police in the city is trying hard to tackle and contain. Quite often, it is the underlying cause of road accidents, a police officer says. So far, this year, Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) has collected Rs. 86,66,300 as fine amount for over-speeding and booked 28,645 cases. In 2011, a total of 54,145 cases were registered and Rs. 1,64,09,590 was collected as fine.
Days after the accident that claimed Shailaja's life, her father continues to relive the horror. “We usually travel by public transport. Everyone in my family is wondering why I decided to take the two-wheeler that night, considering there would be fewer vehicles on the road on a Sunday,” says an inconsolable Hariharan.
V. Suresh, the motorist who rammed Mr. Hariharan's bike, is said to have been drunk that night. He was arrested and booked under Section 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code for homicide not amounting to murder. Mr. Hariharan claims Suresh was part of a group that was racing. “I saw two bikers speed past us and then Suresh hit my two-wheeler,” says the father, who escaped unhurt.
The traffic police has increased vigil on city roads. “We have found that the ECR, OMR and the stretches along the Marina and Elliots beaches are most prone to racing and speeding,” says Sanjay Arora, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic). “Earlier only a fine was levied, but now we remand the offender. With the help of one member, we trace the rest of the gang,” he says.
Enforcement has become stronger with traffic police using laser speed guns to spot speeding vehicles. “We can see vehicles travelling at a distance of 100-200 metres. Speed limits are fed into the equipment, which takes pictures of vehicles found exceeding the permissible limit,” says S. Sivanandan, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic (Planning).