Mr. Professional Bribes a Traffic Cop

Mr. Professional (Mr.Pr) is in the news again. He called me up to tell me that he had bribed a traffic policeman last week. Here's the story:

  • Mr.Pr is driving to work one fine Monday morning. He reaches a T-junction where he has to take a right turn.

  • He is at 40+ kmph when the signal turns amber. Mr.Pr does not want to suddenly brake – so he slows down, but continues taking the turn. At that moment, the signal turns red.

  • Mr.Pr has just completed the 90-degree turn when he sees a cop waving to him to stop.

  • Mr.Pr obliges. He gets out of the car to speak to the cop. The cop, who is about the same age as Mr.Pr's father, is not very rude or gruff. He's smiling and polite, but strict.

  • Mr.Pr knows he is in the wrong – so he agrees to pay the fine. The cop radios the “inspector” and informs him of his catch. Apparently, they are in for a 10-minute wait since the inspector has to come from god-knows-where.

  • The cop tries to bluff saying that Mr. Pr will have to cough up a fine of Rs.300 and his dad (since the car is registered in the dad's name), will have to pay Rs. 500. Mr.Pr informs the cop that he is aware of the rules and that there is only one fine – Rs. 300.

  • The cop realizes that he is dealing with a well-informed citizen and drops the lies. He tries to strike a deal - “You pay me Rs. 150 and I'll let you off”.

  • Mr.Pr denies – saying he'll pay the stipulated fine and insists for the receipt.

  • After 10 minutes, the cop starts playing games. He says that the “inspector” is dealing with other offenders and he'll take at least half an hour to arrive.

  • Mr.Pr sees through this blatant lie – but he is getting late for office. There's nothing he can do. So he reluctantly hands over 2 hundred-rupee notes to the cop. The cop does not even return the “change”!

Well, it seemed like an open-and-shut case to me. Hundreds of such incidents occur on the roads of Bangalore every day. But I could sense the Mr.Pr was not happy about the incident and I was at a loss to come up with a reason for this. The conversation that ensued was something like this:

Me: Spill it out pal – what's playing on your mind?

Mr.Pr: I almost never break the rules – you know it. Even when people all around me are jumping red signals (often because there are no vehicles on the intersecting road) – I still stick to my guns. The only time I do break the rules is when someone waiting behind me bullies me (normally the cabbies who honk the life out of me).

Me: Agreed – but on this occasion, you did break the law – so you did deserve to be punished.

Mr.Pr: Yes – I am not debating that. What I am disappointed about is – why is it that only people who largely follow the rules (the operative word being “largely”) end up paying fines; and people who largely show scant respect for road rules (again – the operative word being “largely”) are let away?

  • How come those rowdy bikers who perform wheelies on public roads don't even feel afraid when doing so? Are they smug in the feeling that they have nothing to fear as far as the traffic police are concerned?

  • Why is it that autorickshaw drivers who drive at night without headlights (or any other lights for that matter) never come to the notice of cops?

  • Why is it that motorists who line up at signals in the wrong lane, on the other side of the road median never end up paying the fine? (case in point – Shivananda signal where this is the norm – even when a cop is manning the junction)

  • How come it never occurs to the cops to demand Pollution-Under-Control certificates from vehicles which spew out kilotons of exhaust?

  • How come drivers who speak on their mobile phones while driving go undetected by the cops?

  • How come those drivers who routinely flout one-ways, “no-free-left”s and even dangerously jump red lights never end up being issued a fine?

  • Most importantly, why is it that the cop did not have the receipts with him when he had caught me? He has no right to hold me there for half an hour, does he?

I stopped Mr.Pr because I knew that he was full of many more examples – and that what he had just poured out was just the tip of the iceberg. I firmly reprimanded him saying that all these points were irrelevant. He had broken the law and had paid for it. Full Stop.

But looking back at the conversation, I found myself nodding my head for each and every point he had made. I have asked these questions myself several times. I shudder to imagine where we are headed as far as road sense is concerned.

I end this post by hoping that each and every one of us wake up to our responsibilities during driving. If the traffic police cannot contain the terror on the roads, let us, the citizens take the initiative to do so. Looking forward to a more road-disciplined India. JAI BHARAT.

2 comments to Mr. Professional Bribes a Traffic Cop

  • You know Kiran, I never violate any traffic signal, but incase, by-chance or bad-luck, if that happens and a cop catches me, I will pay the full fine with reciept, no bribe. This is what I have made my mind just like you.
    You took a right stand initially but I understand you were getting late and you had to come out of the situation there, so you did it, but it doesn't end up here. I know there are lot of riders who violate rules on the road and still go uncaught, but that doesn't matter, what does matter is we couldn't do according to our mind at that time. As a concerned citizen, You now do one thing, send it to TOI, in there civic awareness column. Next time when you go from that signal just take a snap of that signal (to identify the place) and send that to TOI. Also do that to Hindu.
    Let it publish, it works sometime.
    And let your blog get spread various places. I got some photos published earlier for the bad roads in Koramangala Plus column in BT. I also got published one photo+data published about the uncontrolled open traffic control switch in koramangala.
    Do ping me, lets discuss and we will do something about this incident.

  • @Deepak: I agree that this incident needs to be followed up. If we just ignore it then it is only going to repeat.

    I will get your message across to Mr. Professional - let's see where we can take this.

    And hey - I think your resolve to never violate any traffic rule is commendable - considering that many otherwise law-abiding citizens suddenly turn criminals on the road!

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