Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Delhi Government trying to look at traffic discipline

Delhi to an outsider can seem to be a good place to drive. There are large roads, many of whom are maintained well (of course that vanishes when it rains, but that is a different issue). However, Delhi suffers from 2 curses:
1. Delhi has an extremely large number of vehicles, thus causing a major problems during peak time.
2. People in Delhi have the feeling that their time is extremely valuable, and wasting any of that time in traffic is an offense.

Why this talk about traffic? Well, for the past some time, the Delhi Government has been running radio ads calling for traffic sense and giving advice to people, and then having a small talk from the Chief Minister, Sheila Dixit about how it is so important to maintain discipline on the roads.
Now I would really like more discipline on Delhi roads. And when I talk about discipline, I am not only talking about Delhi proper, but the surrounding areas as well that make up the National Capital region, namely Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, and Noida.
I have also realized that due to a combination of reasons such as a feeling of self-importance, time pressure, the belief that there will be very few traffic policemen on the roads, or that they will not bother to challan, or can be bought off, so many of Delhi drivers could not be bothered less with obeying rules.
A few months back, Delhi police grandly announced a special drive to police Delhi roads and enforce all rules, combined with an order from the High Court on compounding that made all fines costlier by Rs, 500. These were reported by the media, and for a few days, one could see more policemen questioning people, or actually cutting off a challan.
But like so many other things, all this fizzled out. Now, you hardly see any traffic policemen actually doing the role of inspection. Drives such as checking for helmet wearing (and on the head, not on the hand as most macho young guys want to do), checking for illegal windows film, jumping red lights can be soon so often. The drive seems to have fizzled out, maybe a target collection was required and that has been achieved.
Things are actually worse off when you move to places away from the center of the city, with nobody caring about red lights, not about allowing pedestrians to cross (in fact, in so many areas where the metro or other construction, the side walks are all gone, with pedestrians jumping between moving traffic), weaving in and out of traffic, and so on.
The answer is a complex one. Just a radio campaign does not work. Traffic training is part of respect of the legal system and laws, and should start from school. A kid asking a question when seeing a traffic rule broken can be very effective at challenging the person who has broken the rule. At the time of taking of license, people should be thoroughly questioned about the rules, and should be taken out in traffic to check rule implementation.
There are many countries that have strict traffic rules, and an equally strict implementation, and these rules are not a violation of anyone's civil rights. As an example, both the US and Singapore have good compliance with traffic rules, and that happens only because the rules are backed up by a fear of fines and police. Unless, in India, we start to put more traffic cops on the road and ready to fine violators, we will continue to have a bad traffic sense and reputation.

If you like these writings, you can subscribe to this feed to get new postsSite Feed Site Feed

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 3:28 AM