Traffic police – why stand and deliver?

[Cross posted from Praja-Bangalore, comments off]

Was driving my F-I-L’s Santro the other day when I was stopped by one of those police parties. 5 of them, settled under a lush thick tree, half of them waiting to stop unsuspecting vehicles, the other half busy ‘punishing’ the ‘successful’ catches. I never get stopped when driving bigger cars, but the 9 year old santro ‘fit’ their criteria.

After an exhaustive round of questions and document-parades, it turned out that Santro’s emission certificate had recently expired. Alright, time to take the ‘punishment’ now, I was kind of excited while being whisked away to the ‘punishing’ side of the road. I was polite, and accepted my ‘crime’. I was shown a xerox-ed sheet that said my fine would be Rs 600. Fine said I, though I recalled not seeing any number higher than Rs 500 on the BTP website. Next, I showed them my wallet, which was empty and told them that the purpose of my short drive was to fill it at the nearby ATM. I asked to be pardoned, my good luck that I was obliged, though the parting shot was, “if you have any love (preeti) for us, please do return and (waapas barowaaga) share something”.

Well, I do love them. But I have no love for this stand and deliver stuff. Teasing deserving-or-not bikers and old-car owners for vehicle documents – what exactly is its worth and purpose? Uncover vehicle theft? Or is there a theory that says those who are careless with RTO documents are more likely to break traffic rules?

5 of them can do policing wonders if they mingle and move with the traffic and catch those umpteen wrong-siders, or zigzag drivers. I bet you that if one of them sits near the new Marathahalli bridge for 30 minutes everyday, and notes down numbers of vehicles doing more than the posted speed limit of 30 kmph (!), we would save lives of a few soon-to-be-hit pedestrians (just you wait).

I am curious as to why is it that they even consider using this inefficient stand-and-deliver method. Not enough budget to pay for petrol/diesel to keep a good number of them mobile? Not enough ‘power’ or authority to catch and fine folks for things that are ‘hard’ to prove (Ex: can’t fine me for over speeding without a radar gun report for proof) ? How are they incentivized, how are they measured for performance? There must be some reasons that I want to understand.

Bangalore Police recently acquired some modern interceptor vehicles, but will just 6-8 of those be enough? What is it that prevents Bangalore Traffic police from using each of their bikes or jeeps as ‘interceptors’?

[PS: this is a curiosity post, and not a rant. I think we don’t understand the workings of traffic police that well. Let us develop it via some knowledge sharing here]

[Pics: The blackberry master cop, and the mobile printer they use to print the records]

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