MVD powerless to stop vehicle stunts on social media

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Vehicle stunts to get a few likes on social media platforms are gaining traction among young people and the MVD is ill-equipped to crack the whip on such offenders

Vehicle stunts to get a few likes on social media platforms are gaining traction among young people and the MVD is ill-equipped to crack the whip on such offenders

Vehicle stunts to get a few likes on social media platforms are gaining ground among young people and the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) is rather ill-equipped to crack down on these offenders, who are setting a bad example.

Not long ago, two youths died after their bikes collided while performing a stunt on the bypass section of NH-66 near Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram.

About a week before the incident, an MVD law enforcement team had focused on the youngsters after their dangerous bike stunts attracted large followings on Instagram. It took officials about a week to get their identities because all identifying marks, including high-security license plates, had been removed from the videos before they were released to dodge agencies.

When the officials arrived at the bikers’ residences, they were greeted by the news that the bikers had died in a road accident, says Liju BS, an additional motor vehicle inspector, Thiruvananthapuram.

In another incident, a student at a private school in Venjaramoodu in Thiruvananthapuram exhibited a model contract car, which gained notoriety after it burst into flames when the bus crew blew crackers on its roof, whose video went viral on social media at school. scientific exhibition. The incident smacks of the growing influence that these unruly social media reels showing the daredevil from the vehicle crew, mostly tour buses, have on young social media users.

In another case, authorities seized a youngster’s vehicle after his dangerous Insta reels went viral. But the youngster spent the whole night outside the MVD office refusing to go home because he was addicted to his bike. It is extremely dangerous for young people to become addicted to such bold performances for mileage on social media, Liju says.

Curiously, a large number of “reel performers” on social media are from the middle class or lower middle class, another officer explains.

“I don’t want to endanger the lives of others by performing stunts, but it’s a passion for me and I can’t stop suddenly. Also, our vehicles are more roadworthy than anyone else’s,” says Jishnu Unni, a 19-year-old stunt biker who was recently injured in an accident in Kollam.

Vehicle modifications are also commonplace. A full fledged modification with additional flashlights and a high decibel sound system will cost the bus owner around ₹3-4 lakh. Initially, about 10% of the buses were so modified, but when they became a hit with students for field trips, they began to damage the fortunes of those who had not been modified. Tour bus operators derive about 50% of their income from excursions, says Rijaz d’Aluva, District Chairman, Contract Carriage Operators’ Association, Ernakulam.

As far as law enforcement goes, the MVD is not fully equipped to track down violators who go overboard with their vehicles for social media traction. For example, there are about eight law enforcement squads in Thiruvananthapuram. A team might register 20-25 traffic violation cases on social media in a month, while more than 2,000 groups are actively posting on social media platforms.

Additionally, it takes an officer about a week to track down the identities of offenders as the details are obscured in the videos. In addition, many senior officials are not tech-savvy enough and find it difficult to prosecute rule violations filmed for social media platforms, according to senior officers.

To top it off, the fines imposed for violations are not dissuasive. Recently, a wandering biker was fined ₹35,000 for a repeat offense in Thiruvananthapuram but the bike popped up on social media with another stunt just a day after it was released.

National highways are a major draw for many, officials say, as videos shot against the backdrop of visually appealing quality highways get better traction on social media. Susan George, a government official in Thiruvananthapuram who commutes to and from the office every day, says the unruly bicycles passing in front of her vehicle often disrupt her pace and peace of mind.

The MVD is exploring ways to implement social media enforcement by partnering with police and excise departments. A recent high-level meeting decided to also invoke tough criminal penalties against social media offenders, in addition to mandating community service and driver training under the MVD to restore the driver’s license canceled, said PS Pramoj Sanker, additional commissioner for transport.

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