Though the number of persons getting challans cut by the Chandigarh Traffic police for driving with headlights on high beam is rising, the city is witnessing a new problem of vehicles fitted with high-power mercury lights which have a blinding effect on other drivers.
While in some cars, such as Mercedes, Audi and Lexus, the lights are pre-installed, owners of others get these lights installed to make their cars ‘trendy’. Asked what they were doing to check this hazard, SSP, Traffic and Security, said, “All illegal alterations made in a vehicle are challaned, and these include the installation of mercury lights in cars”.
The compounding fee is Rs 2,000 for a two-wheeler and Rs 3,000 for a four-wheeler. On repeating the offence, the fee is increased to Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000, respectively.
In the year 2012, 67 persons were challaned for unauthorised modifications, in 2013, 110 and this year till Monday, 36 persons had been challaned. Separate figures of owners challaned for fitting mercury lights in their vehicles were not available.
As for the vehicles which have these lights pre-installed, the SSP said, “If the RLA is registering these vehicles with these lights, we need to question them about the reason for it”.
Kashish Mittal, officer in-charge of RLA (Registration and Licensing Authority), said, “We cannot deny registration to a vehicle which has been duly awarded a fitness certificate from the State Transport Authority.”
DSP of Traffic Administration Kamal Deep said, “We cannot challan a person if his vehicle has mercury lights installed by the manufacturer. But the person should use them at low beam”.
In the year 2012, 109 persons were challaned for driving with headlights on high beam. The number rose to 2,611 in 2013 and this year till June 24, the number was 2,154. The compounding fee is Rs 300 for the first offence and Rs 600 for repeating it. But the problem persists. Talking to Newsline, Sovia Sood, assistant professor at Punjab Engineering College who is a masters in engineering (highways and material testing), said, “The mercury lights are blinding, these blur our vision for a few seconds, they can be dangerous”. Sood added, “The police should be strict with such people. Those who have made modifications should be given a time limit for getting these lights removed.’’
The DSP said that, under the law, a person is supposed to have such lights removed immediately after he is challaned. Rakesh Mittal, a resident of Sector 30, who drives a two-wheeler, said, “Even lights meant for foggy or rainy days when visibility is poor are used the year-round. People have made it a style statement. These lights are blinding and their consequences can be dangerous”.tute committee to examine the issue.