In the past month, more than 150 residents of Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan have been rewarded a new kind of certificates by the district police. The so-called “I am safe” certificates are being given to commuters for following traffic rules
The district police initiated a campaign to felicitate responsible drivers and riders with the objective of spreading awareness about traffic rules among the public. According to Jhunjhunu’s Superintendent of Police, Gaurav Yadav, the idea for the campaign came after local police launched a drive called “Adarsh traffic zone” to curb cases of accidents in the district.
“The Adarsh traffic zone drive was taken up in July to instil the habit of abiding by road safety laws among the public. Under this initiative, we deployed extra force randomly in different areas and carried out unannounced checks whether people are abiding by the rules or not. This led to more members of the public wearing helmets and abiding by traffic rules,” says Yadav.
Data available with the state’s traffic police indicates that there were a total of 10,320 deaths due to road accidents in 2018 in Rajasthan — this was the sixth highest in the country. In terms of another metric, death per hundred accidents, too, Rajasthan figured much higher than the national average. The death per hundred accidents increased from 41.77 deaths in 2014 to 47.46 deaths in 2018, which is much higher than the national average of 32.26 deaths per hundred accidents last year. According to the data available with the traffic police, Rajasthan currently has 1.73 crore vehicles and a national highway network of 10,319 kilometres, which is the second-highest in the country.
Jhunjhunu’s SP Yadav says that two months after the Adarsha traffic zone drive was started, the police launched the “I am safe” campaign for felicitating people who followed traffic rules. The approach of the “I am safe” campaign was diametrically opposite to the earlier campaign. While under the Adarsh traffic zone drive the approach was to take punitive action, under the latter campaign, the approach was to reward those who were on the other end of the spectrum.
“After taking action against traffic violators during the (Adarsh) drive, we decided to issue certificates of appreciations to the people who follow all the traffic rules. For example, if two persons riding a motorcycle are wearing helmets, have tied the strap of the helmet, have all (the) requisite papers and are following all speeding regulations, we would reward them by issuing certificates where the word ‘I am safe’ will be written,” says Yadav. He added that more than 150 certificates have been issued in the past month.
Vishwajeet Singh, the traffic in-charge for Jhunjhunu, says that many members of the public felt elated to receive certificates of appreciation from the police as part of the campaign.
“So far, each year Jhunjhunu would see more than 250 accidental deaths. Following the campaign, accidents have come down by around 15 per cent in the district. We encouraged the people we felicitated to post their photos on social media so that more residents are motivated (to follow traffic rules),” says Yadav.