In an effort to reduce traffic congestion and road accidents, Thimphu traffic police will restrict the movement of medium and heavy vehicles during the peak hours in the city.

Except for buses, medium and heavy vehicles, including earthmoving equipment and machinery will not be allowed to enter the city between 8am to 10am, and 3pm to 6pm.

Thimphu traffic division’s superintendent of police (SP), Yeshay T Phuntsho, said that the restriction of entry of medium and heavy vehicles in the core city area was already there, but the restriction now applies in all the city areas.

“With the increasing number of vehicles plying on the roads, traffic congestion is there in every area of the city,” the SP said. “The move is expected to ease traffic and make pedestrians’ safe.”

The SP said that heavy vehicles move slowly on the road, worsening the traffic congestion.

Motorists complain that with the huge vehicles in the front, they are not able to see vehicles coming from the opposite direction and are also not able to see pedestrians waiting to cross the road. “This causes road accidents,” Yeshay T Phuntsho, said.

The SP said that while this might help  to ease traffic flow, it could adversely affect construction projects. “But it is important to look at the public benefit.”

Meanwhile, in 2016, driving without necessary documents topped the list of traffic violation in the country. About 2,326 drivers were fined for drink driving.

The SP said that for the last nine years, drink driving has been one of the main causes of road accidents in the country. “It may be because alcohol is easily available in the country and also because the penalty for drink driving is only Nu 1,750, which is low.”

The Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) is in the process of revising the penalty amounts.

Of a total of 726 vehicle accidents in the country last year, 161 accidents were caused due to drink-driving, followed by unlicensed driving, and speeding.

According to police records, there were 105 deaths and 355 injuries in vehicle accidents last year.

The SP said that while conducting alcohol test, some commercial drivers are found under the influence of alcohol. “They carry passengers and they are risking many lives.”

The RSTA and traffic police division will carry out alcohol and drug test for all bus drivers daily before their departure from the stations starting this week. There will be ad hoc checking on the way.

“This initiative is to ensure the safety of passengers,” the SP said.

Penalty for drivers for not giving way to pedestrians is had been raised to Nu 1,200 from Nu 700.

“There are complaints from the motorist that the pedestrians walk slowly on zebra crossings and that they show up abruptly at the zebra crossing,” the SP said. “If accidents happen, the pedestrian will be the one who will suffer more. Therefore, I feel we should give priority to the pedestrian.”

Despite notifying the public through advertisement and various activities, the SP said that there are still people who violate traffic rules and regulations.

Until May 15th this year, 48 drivers have been fined for not giving way to pedestrians on zebra crossings.

Dechen Tshomo