Kolkata: Road aciidents in the city is growing up by leaves and bounds. Thus the Bengal government has classified chatting away at the wheel as “negligent driving” and notified that bus drivers employed by state transport undertakings and their franchisees will be liable for dismissal if they are reported for this and any such offence.
“Any driver when found to be using a mobile phone or chatting with fellow passengers in the driver’s cabin while driving shall be removed forthwith: his driving licence shall be sent to the licensing authority for action as per law,” states a circular to the transport corporations.
According to the circular, a bus driver seeking employment in a state transport undertaking must be at least five feet and three inches tall and should not have any criminal record for seven years.
While the circular states that a bus driver can lose his job for a violation, there is no mention of how compliance at the wheel will be monitored the transport department. Police are banking on public awareness to catch bus drivers who do not comply with the new safety requirements.
Most traffic cases invite paltry fines that are hardly a deterrent, police officers said. The decision to introduce a much heavier fine of Rs 1,000 for using a mobile phone at the wheel – Rs 2,000 for a subsequent offence and revocation of driving licence thereafter – was taken after the Murshidabad bus tragedy in which 43 people died.
A police investigation revealed that the bus driver was on the phone when the vehicle fell into a canal on January 29. A transport department official said franchisees operating buses under the state transport corporations had been asked to strictly follow the guidelines.