Wednesday, October 24, 2007
These guys have been stopped by the police for riding their motorbikes without a helmet. "Negotiations" are going on, and people are let off after money changes hands, and by that I don't mean that the guy pays the fine and gets a receipt. Many people ride without helmets even if they have them because it is very hot, or because they want to talk on cell phone!! The law does not require the pillion rider to wear a helmet!! Policemen wait on streets in groups to catch helmetless riders. When they see one, they waive him down. Sometimes the riders speed up instead of slowing down and are able to get away. But at other times, the policeman tries to hit the rider with his stick if he tries to speed up!! In one such incident a youngster lost his life after falling from his bike. There were several minor accidents due to this crude approach. Now the police are beginning to issue an e-ticket (called an "e-challan" here) which arrives by mail after the policeman notes down the number or gets a video. They do this for several things including driving/riding while talking on cell phone, for riding without a helmet, and more recently for driving with number plates which have fancy (difficult to read) lettering. The other day I saw a policman with a small video camera filming the number plates of vehicles at a stop light. But some people have fake licences or fake addresses, so they don't get these tickets. If they have given a fake address, they get caught when they go to renew their licences and have upaid fines. The DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles, which is called RTA here - Road Transport Authority) is quite modern now and waiting time is said to be less than at the DMV in the US! But I keep hearing that it is still possible to get a license without taking a test (either written or driving), as long as you show up to get your picture taken, if you find a right broker.
When the helmet law was put into effect, there was a mad rush to buy helmets. But they did not have enough helmets and so they were being sold in the black market at a premium. Even in helmets there are fake ones!! There was an uproar when people got fined when enough helmets were not made available at the dealers. So they extended the deadline - several times! Only helmets that bear the ISI (Indian Standards Institute) mark are said to be genuine, although I don't know how anyone would know if the fake ones also carry that same mark....
The motto of the traffic police painted on the red pedestal reads: "For You With You All Ways" (sic)
"It is a great mystery why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets." -Unknown