Amendment to law clears the way for bringing order to traffic
ISLAMABAD’s Traffic Police (ITP) say they are “all set” to make the city roads safer for the travellers and dangerous for the traffic law breakers. That sounds surprising. Has not that been the very purpose of ITP’s creation?
Why the ITP have to assert “to bring international road safety environment” to the city now?
A former ITP officer explains that an amendment in the Provincial Motor Vehicles Ordinance opens the way for Interior Ministry to empower the traffic police to check and punish wild drivers and jay walkers to ensure orderly and safe traffic on the roads.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Sultan Azam Temuri told Dawn that the ITP was working on providing “a safe and better road environment for the motorist”.
However, he also admitted that attempts made by the ITP in the past such as confining the public transport to a single lane, and banning jay walking and children from the front seat of passenger vehicles proved unsuccessful.
Interestingly, before the parliament approved the amendment in February, many offences mentioned in the Ordinance’s Schedule XII (violation and penalties) were outside the purview of the ITP.
“A few years back, we proposed that the crossing of the Islamabad Expressway be declared a punishable offence for the pedestrians, because several of them had been killed doing that instead of using the bridge meant for them. But the proposal was shot down and why? Some thought it violated human rights,” recalled an ITP officer.
Same fate met the proposal to ban children travelling in the front seat, he said.
“Not much thought was given to the argument that all over the civilised world, children in the front seat are considered a distraction and a hazard not just to the driver, but all others too – and most to the child himself – in the case of an accident.”
After the passage of the amendment in Schedule XII, however, the ITP hope to get the powers to take measures to make roads safe, particularly in the domain of Section 48 of the schedule which list 71 violations and specifies penalties for them.
ITP sources feel some internationally accepted violations, hazards and potentially dangerous situations need to be included in the list of nationally accepted traffic violations.
If it could have its way with its controllers, the ITP would make jay walking punishable on all the high-speed roads, expressways, highways and avenues, one officer said.
Before declaring the ban it would seek the Capital Development Authority build pedestrian bridges on the roads where they don’t exist now.
Children would be banned from the front seat of vehicles, so would be helmets that block the side-view of motorcyclists.
“Unidirectional helmets meant for racers are not the proper headgear for motorcyclists,” the officer said.
Helmet would be declared compulsory for the pillion-rider too. What looks a tough a task, though, is the ITP’s plan to confine the present day wayward buses, pickups and wagons on the roads to one lane – the one on the extreme left.
This was tried some four years ago but to no good as the reckless competition among buses and vans to pick up maximum passengers did not violate any provision of the so-called Schedule XII.
Cyclists changing lanes on the road or darting into thick of traffic from nowhere also constitute a hazard, more so when it is dark and they are pedalling in the fast lane. The ITP proposes to confine them to the slowest lane and make reflectors on the front and back of their cycles compulsory.
But, on the other hand, taxis and private vehicles would be fined for moving slowly in the midst of busy traffic or markets in search of passengers or parking space.