Delhi drivers still insensitive to making way for ambulances, fire tenders

In one of those traffic snarls on June 10, Narendra Khare (29), who works as a driver at a private company, was stuck at the BRT junction near Chirag Delhi. 

Behind him was a long tail of vehicles, at the end of which stood an ambulance. Its siren was loud, but probably not loud enough to stimulate the conscience of the drivers ahead. Narendra pulled over his Maruti Omni and alighted the vehicle, played a traffic cop himself and then created a short corridor for the ambulance to pass with the help of the lanes once reserved for buses in the BRT.

The next day, Narendra’s story was on a popular FM channel. Someone in the crowd had probably called up the radio station and narrated the story of an ‘unidentified man’ who saved a life, battling Delhi’s apathetic traffic.

Despite the Delhi Traffic Police claiming to go strict against drivers not giving way to emergency vehicles – that include ambulances, fire tenders and PCR vans attending a call – and also several radio channels running campaign on the same, the police have so far been able to prosecute merely around 10 violators for the offence. 

All prosecutions have taken place during the four or five Green Corridor operations coordinated with the help of the traffic police.

“For prosecuting drivers refusing to give way to emergency vehicles, cameras are required to be installed at the <g data-gr-id="45">dash <g data-gr-id="44">boards</g></g><g data-gr-id="44">,</g> so that registration numbers of violators can be recorded and reported to the police. Such cameras cost between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000,” says Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

Earlier in June, Chander says, he himself had come to know about an ambulance that had to face a tough time near West Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh. But no action could be taken in the absence of any concrete information or complaint.

Between September 8 and December 30 last year, Delhi Traffic Police had issued a series of circulars to the Department of Health, some individual hospitals and Delhi Fire Services, claimed a police source. 

“But till date, hardly three to four hospitals have bothered to inform us that they have installed those cameras. About others, we have no clue,” Chander added.

AK Sharma, Director of Delhi Fire Services, said that he has no objection to the idea of installing cameras in fire tenders but there has to be a protocol clarifying how the recordings are to be preserved, how a complaint is to be made, and who will monitor the process, that too in a situation when the department is highly <g data-gr-id="46">under-staffed</g>.

He, however, said that he was not sure whether his department had received any such circular.
Prosecuting for not giving way to an emergency vehicle is not new as far as the Motor Vehicles Act is concerned, and can attract penalty up to Rs 2,000.

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