Call for more weighbridges across highways in Kerala to rein in overloaded trucks

Published - March 22, 2024 01:42 am IST

Faced with public ire over three deaths in a row in Thiruvananthapuram this week due to apparent overloading and reckless driving by tipper lorries, personnel of the Motor Vehicles department (MVD) and the police have sought adequate number of weighbridges across highways to rein in overloading and the subsequent risk it posed to motorists and pedestrians.

“Such weighbridges could also be put up near quarries and at big worksites like ports. This is all the more required since the tipper lorry from which a granite boulder fell on a dental student, resulting in his death, was having an overload of 18 tonnes. This in itself would attract a fine of ₹37,000,” said a senior MVD official.

Interestingly, police personnel most often slap a token fine of just ₹250 for overloading, while their MVD counterparts impose ₹10,000 for overloading and an additional ₹1,500 for each additional tonne of load beyond the permitted capacity, he added.

This is as per Section 113 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which deals with ‘limits of weight and limitations on use’ of vehicles. Section 194 of the Act has specified ₹20,000 as the fine for overloading and ₹2,000 for each additional tonne of load beyond the permitted capacity. This was halved to ₹10,000 and lessened by ₹500 per tonne, by the State government.

Both MVD and police officials said that they were often hamstrung in enforcing rules regarding overloading and reckless driving involving heavy vehicle drivers, since detaining these lorries and buses on the road side, including on highways, often resulted in traffic hold-ups. Apart from bridges, there is also need to have dedicated space to park such vehicles that ought to be detained for violating safety norms, they said.

Accidents, including those involving tipper lorries, can be considerably lessened through ground-level rule enforcement, said Upendra Narayanan, expert member of Kerala Road Safety Authority.

“The State needs a full-time IG (Traffic) and strict monitoring of patrol teams, including of the 59 Highway Police teams in the State. Road safety enforcement should be given priority on par with the CM’s security, since the life of motorists is at stake. For this, patrol teams must be deployed under young officers, rather than those who are promoted to the rank of SI while aged 50 and above. Direct IPS cadre officers should be posted as SP (Traffic) in South and North zones. In addition, warning sign boards and lights must be erected in accident-prone roads,” he added.

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