Whenever we see a vehicle jumping a signal, we immediately prophesize that the said person might die in an accident soon. Little do we think the same when we ourselves jump signals or ignore small traffic etiquettes. I still wonder what people do with a lead of two or three seconds which they pick up, by jumping a signal just before it turns green. Even if we take summation of all the signals jumped in a day (say you jump fifteen signals in a day, three seconds lead at every signal buys you 45 seconds in total) the time might add up wherein you could only watch three fifteen seconds commercials on television or maybe undo your shoelaces and place them in a rack.
When we demand Traffic safety or Traffic rules and laws to be implemented, What triggers, are fine collection drives by the traffic law enforcement agencies. We are fined for majorly
1- Not wearing a Helmet.
2- Jumping a signal.
3- Riding or Driving above the specified number of people allowed on a vehicle (according to the registration certificate)
4- Entering singular traffic lanes
5- Parking at wrong places
6- Not carrying required documents.
7- Expired Insurance
8- Not having ‘Pollution Under Control’ Certificates.
9- Stopping your vehicle on a Zebra Crossing.
10- ‘Aap ka din bura hai fine’ (reason being you or the cop going through a bad day)
Having said that I don’t support the idea of the breaking of any of the above rules but the point is that mostly only these things are done in the name of road safety.
Road Safety is a complex term and cannot be confined to the implementation of fine culture or awareness videos being shared on social media. What is generally needed is
1- Proper working Signal lights and Indicators.
2- The Signals system on a minimum stretch of a road say five kilometers must be synchronized.
3- Paved roads for turns
4- Well planned lane openings before an approaching junction to avoid traffic jams.
5- Rapid Transport Lanes, Car Pool Lanes etc. Public Transport vehicles strictly to be allowed on these lanes.
6- Cycling Tracks.
7- Lane Driving and safe Distance between cars to be kept for filtering of two-wheelers vehicles.
8- Ring roads with proper parking facilities within the lanes to help commuters to reach their destination with minimum walking distance and to carry back the shopping purchase to the vehicles.
9- Proper-Sound-Timely-Good Public transport system and not signature mediums to boast the facilities offered in the city.
10- Time bounded traffic Projects.
11- Marking of Speed-breakers
12- Maps and indicators at proper places to help the commuters to reach their destination easily
13- Education of Pedestrians.
Where does the problem lie?
Now let us analyze ‘Why is it so that the law enforcement agencies concentrate on fine collections rather than any on the above points. The answer lies in the old style Victorian era policing that our country still follows. We don’t completely deny the fact that modernisation of the Police force or System has taken place but we feel there is a long way to go. The old policing system is based on documentation of cause and effect stats, for the same reason, we see law enforcement agencies boasting the numbers of traffic violators fined or fine collected. Old style policing analyses the success of the department or the person based on what can be proved on the paper. For example, we can assess the vigilance of the department by the number of people fined or caught but we can not measure the futility of the marking the speed-breakers in term of accidents prevented by it on paper.
Whenever there is a change in traffic route different pressure groups start persuading the enforcement agencies to change the plan to benefit them, or at least not affecting their business or for various reasons. ‘A greater good’ is seldom, an aim for many of such informal pressure groups.
Many speed-breakers are not marked as they are built by local committees near residential places to slow down the vehicular traffic near their homes. We cannot expect the enforcement agencies to find every new speed-breaker put by local committees and paint them. There is a need for legal and scientific micro policy on the same.
In a bumper to bumper traffic, we can never locate the ambulance, there is so much talk about giving way to the ambulance but practically we can never know where is the siren sound coming from. I believe that the number of idiots who obstruct the ambulance in a moving traffic is quite less.
The question remains how can we approach this issue to find viable solutions. Let us propose a few with our own common sense and limited expertise
- Social audit of roads and development work done by involving citizens groups.
- Special funding through active NGOs for educational programs for pedestrians and drivers as well.
- Decentralisation of small road related decisions to be transferred to mohalla committees.
- The ambulance can have a GPS based indicator system wherein the subsequent traffic signals would turn green to facilitate the movement of the ambulance in dedicated Rapid Transport lanes.
- Digital Fining has given an upper hand to the enforcement agencies wherein whatever the officer’s word is taken for a final say. There is a need for speed cameras along straight roads and working cameras near signals and critical areas to support fining an individual with proper proof.
- Helmet stands in offices, colleges and even places of prayers to bring about attitudinal changes
- Warning the violator rather than jumping to fine him.
In the matter of Road Safety and traffic safety deterrence through strict action and fining people has failed again and again. Behavioral changes are the need of time, the people need to change their attitude towards fellow commuters and law enforcement agencies too. As many times emphasized the cop is a citizen in uniform and to expect him to have a magic wand to solve traffic problems is sheer stupidity. Hope this article brings some change in the attitude of people while they drive.