End to red beacons

Regulating the use of red beacons would result in more stringent checks on vehicles that might be carrying suspects

Editorial May 03, 2017

Red beacons have been banned for use by the government of India. VIP vehicles, including those of the president, prime minister and judges, are no longer allowed to parade the streets with flashing red lights atop their vehicles and only emergency and law-enforcement vehicles will be allowed to use red beacons. This is a highly sensible approach by the government of India and even though some Indian states are searching for ways to skirt around the ban through the pronounced use of sirens instead, this is exactly what the government of Pakistan ought to do. Apart from the obnoxiousness of flashing lights and sirens in civilian, VIP and self-proclaimed VIP vehicles weaving in and out of dense traffic, there have been too many threats to citizens’ safety on the road. Not only does rash driving — considered a rite of passage by drivers of vehicles donning the beacons — endanger the lives of other motorists and pedestrians on the road, it causes ambulance delays and stops critical patients in their tracks. The lights also cause anxiety among drivers, increasing chances of misjudgments and accidents.

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We in Pakistan must learn from the move. Provincial governments, especially where crime is high such as Sindh and Punjab, can at least implement an initial ban. As noted by the Indian courts, the red lights can be used by criminals to escape detection. The last several decades has seen a struggling effort by the police to detect and catch criminals so regulating the use of red beacons would result in more stringent checks on vehicles that might be carrying suspects. Lastly, the use of ostentatious lights on expensive vehicles is crass considering the majority of people cannot afford a fraction of those vehicles. Our dignitaries must mull over this ban as applicable to themselves, which would restore some of their lost honour.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2017.

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