Judging by the disappointment among partygoers and late night owls, the Royal Bhutan Police’s initiative of “Zero Tolerance Day” is working out fine.
More than a month since the initiative kicked off, there are numerous stories of driving licenses and vehicle registration documents seized by police, as motorists are caught red-handed driving under the influence of alcohol or, in some cases, carrying extra passenger or load.
The day was initiated when police found out that motor vehicle accidents increased on Fridays, as road users increased and people started to celebrate the weekend. The simplest of traffic rule violations are penalised. This is a laudable initiative of the police. Even without studies or research, we can agree with police that traffic violations increase, especially in urban areas, on Fridays and weekends as people celebrate a hectic week coming to an end. Even police do so.
Some motorists are not taking the initiative seriously and are even seen charging constables, when they stop cars to take an alcohol test. The initiative will not cost the people anything. Rather the law keepers are ensuring that we return home to our parents or families safe. They are not saying people cannot drink. By penalising people, who drink and drive, police are helping to save lives. It is not a rare scene to see cars veered off the roads and into the drains on weekends.
Although revenue is not a priority, the royal Bhutan police is also collecting a handsome amount in monetary fines, as they penalise violators. For instance, the Samdrupjongkhar division collected Nu 144,050 in fines from motorists on the first Friday, April 24. The amount reduced to about Nu 37,000 by the third week. This is a good indication that people are growing careful and learning to respect traffic rules.
The money collected could remain with the police and help them with better equipment and, perhaps, to pay the constables on duty, at odd hours, some remunerations. They could also extend it to other days, especially on Wednesdays.
One complaint among motorists is that the alcohol breath analyser is not accurate and therefore putting some innocents into trouble.
Our law keepers know that it is better to let hundred go scot-free than to penalise a single innocent. Once they are forwarded to the court or higher authorities, there is a lot of formalities to be put through.
In some developed countries, motorists, for instance, can consume a pint of beer or standard glass of wine. This is because drinking and drunk driving are two different cases. To improve the initiative and make it more friendly with motorists, police should be equipped with the latest and most sophisticated machines.
One area police could improve is also on dealing with motorists. While they have the right to stop and check, a common complaint among motorists is that they are rude and arrogant. If true, this will not reflect nicely on them.
The presence of police on the road or in any public area should ensure security and not breed fear among the public. That way police can gain the trust of the public without even asking for it.