Preaching To Develop A Better Road Culture

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Kolkata Police has taken up an ambitious project– ‘Jaago’ in order to achieve the goal of ‘Safe Drive, Save Life’ campaign. The project has been implemented by the city police in association with an NGO- Karmayog to develop a better ‘road culture’ by involving all stake holders. Realizing that enforcement of law and prosecution alone cannot reduce road accidents and ensure discipline among road users, ‘Jaago’ project has been launched to counsel drivers in a subtle manner. Each trafc guard organize interactive sessions with drivers and school students which have started yielding better result, said Kalyan Mukhopadhyay, Deputy Commissioner (Trafc- South), who is nodal ofcer of the project.

The sergeants have also changed their strategy by adopting a friendly approach with the drivers. They are motivating leaders of auto unions to impose self regulatory measures so that union members follow trafc rules and behave properly with passengers. It is not that auto drivers have changed their mindset due to awe about Sergeants but come forward with a positive approach for mutual benets. Ratan Saha, a driver who operates auto since 1989, has admitted that the initiative by local trafc guard has become benecial for them. He said, “This training and interactive session has helped us to realize how rash driving causes road accidents. Now sergeants are not so rude to us and most of us have changed their obnoxious behaviours.” Another auto driver Bimal Dassaid, “Earlier it was a perception that the auto drivers are the worst ever creature in this world. They hardly care police, blockade main thoroughfare on trivial matters, misbehave with passengers. But now you can hardly complain against us. Thanks to Kolkata Police. They have off late realized our compulsion and extended all possible help to sort it out.”

Each Trafc Guard has identied 400 auto drivers and motivates them in changing their way of doing their business in a better manner. In an interactive session they are being trained and motivated with digital games, rhymes and songs. During training and counseling session, auto drivers have developed rapport with the Sergeants and inform Sergeants about the recovered mobile set of any passenger through Whatts App number. Data base of the individual auto, bus and cab drivers has also been created by the respective Trafc Guard for appropriate use. Individual information of 30,000 drivers has been digitized so far.

KARMA METER App has also been developed to keep tabs on the moves of the individual auto drivers and rate their grade. A card with QR code is available in each auto which the passengers can scan and share their feedbacks. Sergeants and fellow drivers will also rate individual auto drivers. The drivers who will unable to receive satisfactory grade altogether, will be counseled for their benets by the personnel of respective Trafc Guard.

On the other hand, classes on road safety are being taken in schools in the city on a regular basis and they have been given assignments to design various activities. Kolkata Police has a target to reach one lakh students through this project who will bear the message of road safety in real terms. The students perform skit, one act play Jaago. Fun games events– Octa Khela have been organized where different categories of people including drivers, children, senior citizens and others have participated in eight groups.

Kalyan Mukhopadhyay, Deputy Commissioner (Trafc-South) said, “We have sensitized all road users including pedestrians and drivers. In an attempt to make a bond with the road users, our personnel of 25 Trafc Guards have initially opted to point out their faults instead of strict enforcement of law. The new approach of police has led to bring behavioural  change among the errant auto drivers. Now they hardly out trafc rules and misbehave with passengers. Since we are reaching at the schools and preaching for a better ‘road culture’ now children are insisting their parents to use helmets while riding on a motorbike. They are even refusing to ride on a motorbike if they had no helmet. ”All the Trafc Guards have been motivated to perform better in achieving the goal of Safe Drive Save Life campaign. Competition in this regard is being held at three months interval and each Trafc Guard tries to bag the award. Three minute short lm completion has also been organized on road safety where Trafc Guards have showcased their efforts.

Abhijit Chatterjee