There has always been a trend of personalising vehicles all over the world, with customised paint jobs, decals and even car identification number plates. Owing to this affinity with personal vehicles a lot of people often cross several lines of acceptable and respectable limits by putting up uncultured, communist or anti-social text and imagery in the form of vinyl, stickers and decals on their vehicle number plates as a distinguishing feature.
In India, this fad started with VIP numbers – the kind that comes in special series ranging from repetitive number trails like 1111, 2222, 3333, etc. to progressive arithmetic sequences like 1234, 5678, or 4321, 9876 and so on. These numbers often come at high prices, sometimes as much as the cost of the vehicle, they’re to be put on. Not everyone can afford such expensive quotes for these exclusive number plates and end up opting for cheaper alternatives like vinyl graphics and mostly inappropriate text.
Time and again, transport authorities have tried to check this growing nuisance by levying fines and confiscating driver’s licenses, but never has the prevention of such acts been taken gravely enough by either offenders or authorities.
Only recently, with the new traffic and road regulations being passed, the traffic and road transport authorities have taken some serious steps to establish that number plates are strictly for vehicle identification only. Any form of graphic or text on the outside of the road transport organisation’s guidelines will be dealt with, through heavy penalties and fines.
The eighth edition of the traffic rules and regulations drive, by Gautam Budh Nagar police station Noida, Uttar Pradesh has taken such offenders and lawbreakers by a storm. Operation clean, as its called, was a unique initiative to decongest the city roads of Noida and Greater Noida, conducted in two sessions. Operation Clean is the first time that traffic challans/penalties have been dished out in such an overwhelming capacity and with such gritty intensity.
The morning session involved roadblocks being set up and vehicles being stopped and checked for any inconsistencies concerning traffic rules and regulations. It turned out such that the highest number of fines were dished out to people with improper/inappropriately displayed license plates. From ten in the morning to twelve in the noon, traffic police officers stopped, checked and issued fines to over four thousand motor vehicle owners with improper documentation, unacceptable number plates with irrelevant text and graphics and other offences. A total of two thousand four hundred vehicles and above were issued physical fitness fines for traffic violations, more than a hundred of which were immediately impounded pending jurisdictional hearings and punishment for their owners. Over fourteen hundred and seventy challans were electronically issued to the penalised, and the total number of fines reached four thousand seven hundred and fifty, within this short period.
The same process was repeated in the evening between six and eight pm when almost fifteen hundred vehicles were issued fines in a short period. One thousand and fourteen two-wheeler owners and three hundred and forty-five car owners were handed challans, and almost sixty vehicles were impounded again in the evening session of the regulatory traffic drive. The fine amount collected on one single day exceeded rupees four lakh.
The police were in particular targeting vehicles with shady or fancy number plates, and all such vehicles were stopped, searched and served fines depending on the intensity of lawbreaking. Any text or graphic denoting caste, religion, profession, political interests or favouritism on vehicles was immediately removed and fined. Inappropriate text display got an exclusive drive for prevention which began last Sunday, and many were stopped and handed tickets. Noida police also used breath analysers to trap and detain drunk drivers and confiscated licenses, vehicle registration cards and even impounded vehicles of the offenders.
Given the shocking number of people fearlessly violating traffic regulations and laws, the authorities have decided to repeat this practice over the next few days and months with a strong feeling that such initiatives bring down the number of illegal driving practices and habits of our citizens. Among many others, the most commonly committed offence is driving or riding against the direction of moving traffic. This otherwise harmless nuisance becomes dangerous for everyone in the immediate surroundings in case of an accident. Wrong side driving is often complained about by residents of many societies.
Police also stopped and fined vehicles with tinted windshields and film treated windows, an established traffic offence for over a decade due to national security concerns. They pulled films off of such cars and handed tickets to vehicle owners on the spot. Such drives tend to filter out good commuters from road offenders and enforce the responsibility of adherence to traffic rules and regulations and the acknowledgement of the fact that these are in general for the greater societal good and long term benefit.