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Armin Wandrewala: SOOR Sanity On Our Roads: An Interview

Below is an article on Armin Wandrewala’s initiative “Sanity On Our Roads” called SOOR.

Listen to her radio interview on Radio ONE here.

Now, you can enforce traffic discipline on Mumbai’s roads

Breach Candy-based Armin Wandrewala has started SOOR, an initiative that purports to get you, the citizen, involved in enforcing traffic discipline on the roads

By Vinod Kumar Menon | Mid-Day

If motorists and drivers around you suddenly start following traffic rules in the next few weeks, you may have Armin Wandrewala to thank for it. The lawyer and writer started a movement called SOOR — which stands for Sanity On Our Roads — on July 21, that purports to turn citizens into traffic watchdogs. The idea is to get citizens to persuade errant motorists to abide by rules and keep road discipline. It has already garnered support from over 830 volunteers across the country on Facebook. Volunteers will try to resolve traffic issues by educating violators with active participation from the general public.

Wandrewala, a resident of Breach Candy, has been a victim of road rage herself. Two years ago, she was almost knocked down by an errant biker when she chided him for breaking a red signal at a zebra crossing opposite Regal Theatre in Colaba. Enraged, he started to hit her repeatedly in the face with his footwear. The incident caused an outrage, and the Bombay Bar Association held an urgent meeting to condemn the assault, and passed a resolution to pursue the matter further, which resulted in a PIL.

Do your bit
“Nearly everyone seems to break signals, and transgress basic traffic rules, resulting in daily tragedies. The police and courts alone can’t resolve this, citizens need to do their bit too. Hence SOOR,” she explains.

She adds, “The main problem is a total lack of discipline, and the attitude that only ‘fools’ maintain road discipline. This is dangerous.” Wandrewala is of the opinion that pedestrians too need to be disciplined. “Sometimes, a motorist gets blamed, when the fault is of the pedestrian. SOOR will address these issues.”

Another member of SOOR, Gauri Chhabria, professor and practising lawyer said, “As a lawyer, I deal with motor accident claim matters and I know the agony of the accident victim. I would like to help as a member of SOOR.”

In colleges and clubs
Wandrewala is in the process of taking SOOR onto the streets, quite literally, in the form of slogans and posters. “These can be put up in housing societies and colleges. I also plan to approach corporates to help sponsor media campaigns on this issue.”

On September 12, she addressed students of her alma mater, Government Law College on the matter, and will do the same at St Xavier’s college, KC College and Wilson college in the coming days. Any member of the public can become a member of SOOR, by sending a request on the page. Volunteers can, by themselves, or as part of a group, request offenders to not break traffic laws, make complaints about faulty/lacking infrastructure, take down numbers of offenders who don’t listen, build up public opinion against corruption, ensure licenses are given only on merit, and ensure their drivers and family follow traffic rules. Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vivek Phansalkar has welcomed the initiative. “Members can even man traffic in their areas and we will provide any assistance and support they require,” he says. He adds, “Mumbai traffic police has a Responsible Road Users Club (RRUC) where citizens have pledged to follow the 10 basic commandments while driving. It is the responsibility of every license holder to follow traffic norms. The city has over 20 lakh vehicles, as per the records available at the transport commissioner’s office.”