NEW DELHI: Tanveer Alam was driving his cab on the wrong side of the road divide on the flyover. Clearly, he meant to avoid the snarl up ahead and justified his action to TOI by saying that driving a few metres illegally saved him time. “There is no U-turn near the jammed spot, so it is more convenient for me take a turn ahead of it and drive under the flyover,” explained Alam. “The lawkeepers should ensure the roads are free of snarls before hauling us up for driving on the wrong side.”

This confrontative attitude is typical of drivers on Delhi roads, especially in areas around , Aurobindo Marg and with heavy traffic through the day. Meanwhile, a motor accidents claims officer claimed that almost 50% of road accidents are head-on collisions with vehicles coming from the wrong direction on the lane and 35%, by vehicles ramming into the sides of other vehicles.

The bunching up of traffic at a traffic light or a vehicle breaking mid-street sends scores revving to the wrong side of the divider. Potholed stretches with no central verge are also prone to wrong side driving. Even during odd hours, speeding cars on the wrong side of the road is a common scene on arterial stretches, even in high-security areas, like near the . Lax enforcement of road rules is the main reason why this blatant violation of law goes ignored.

While the traffic police is considering the possibility of seizing licences for the offence, violators are having a literal free run of the streets. Explaining why people look for easy ways out of congestions, traffic expert K K Kapila said, “Drivers feel driving on the wrong side will save time and fuel. Gridlocks cost seven million man hours and Rs 100 crore in productivity every year and cause a lot of impatience in a city like Delhi.”

According to the Union ministry of road transport and highways, 5,705 people were killed across the country in accidents caused by using the wrong side of the road. The chances of fatality increase if such drivers are inexperienced. A police officer explained that very often to avoid being mocked by other drivers, the defaulters tend to speed even while driving on the wrong side. Moreover, most of them do not have the sense to alert oncoming traffic about their presence by the use of appropriate signals or horn.

has sought the permission of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety to seize licences for violations of this nature. Currently, traffic police can only recommend the suspension or cancellation of licences to the transport department, which then sends a notice to the offender for the surrender of the licence.

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