The roadways bus drivers in Uttar Pradesh will now have to be careful around their passengers. If found talking on the phone while behind the wheels, the government has asked passengers to click such drivers, send their pictures through WhatsApp to it, and win cash prizes. A fine will be imposed on the errant driver, too. “Though there are rules and regulations to prevent the use of mobile phones while driving, complaints from passengers keep pouring in. We are now taking the help of passengers and have asked them to click photographs of drivers flouting rules and send it to us through WhatsApp,” UP Transport Minister Swatantra Dev Singh told PTI in Lucknow. The amount of cash rewards is not known.
The minister also added that the initiative has elicited encouraging response. “First, the passengers are feeling empowered to report the misuse of mobile phones while driving, and, secondly, it is helping in instilling a sense of responsibility among drivers, who know that if they use a mobile phone, they will be clicked,” the minister said. He, however, said there is no data on the number of drivers fined and passengers rewarded as the data is not yet compiled.
Currently, an offender can be booked under the Motor Vehicles Act, and punished with a jail term extending up to six months and a fine of Rs 1,000 in case he is found talking on the phone while driving a bus. This has, however, not deterred the drivers. With citizens becoming a part of the initiative, Minister Swatantra Dev Singh said he hopes that the drivers will be more attentive and that the number of mishaps that occur because of driving while using phones will come down. With a fleet of over 11,851 buses, the roadway buses in the state operate over 3 million kilometres catering to the travel needs of over 1.4 million people, earning over Rs 70 million every day.
He also lauded the suggestion of including road safety norms in the school syllabus made by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday. He also added that Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have signed a MoU in order to facilitate better movement of passengers between the states. While UPSRTC buses will cover 56,774 kms every day in Rajasthan, the Rajasthan Path Parivahan Nigam will run its buses on 56,558 kms daily in UP, the minister said.