Four Lane System in Chennai

Well, maybe the authorities are not that dumb to ignore an impending problem like our traffic problem. When I was out driving on saturday, I found police officers on the road directing the two wheeler drivers to stick to the right most lane. But what the hell, the two wheeler drivers would jump out of the last lane the moment they cross the officer. Nowhere else can you see crime being committed so blatantly. Don’t these stupid idiots understand the concept lane system? Or is it simply that they believe they are above the law?

The four-lane traffic system in vogue on Anna Salai will be extended from the DMS complex (Teynampet) to the Nandanam junction from 7 a.m on Saturday. Traffic police officials hope the four-lane system would reduce accidents as different types of vehicles will move in demarcated lanes. This avoids a direct contact between heavy vehicles and two-wheelers, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sunil Kumar.

[ Read the news in HINDU ]

As happy as I am that lane system is being implemented, i feel some serious changes should be made to the system before it can really get effective. One of the key problems in Indian roads is that we have too many exits on either sides of the road. Which means, vehicles exit the main roads at frequent points. And that means, we need to leave aside two lanes on the either extreme for this purpose. And that means, the lane set aside for Buses and the lane set aside for the two wheelers and autos will be encroached the cars at the exit points. And there goes down the drain the system of lanes!

Also, I really do not understand what’s the logic behind putting Autos in the right most lane! Why would anyone do that? Do authorities really expect the Autos to stick to that lane? How will they pickup passengers? They HAVE to come to the left most lane for this. There again goes down the drain the lane system!

Now add a few thousand crazy stupid idiots on two-wheelers, and a few disgruntled senseless MTC drivers and lorry drivers to this scene and you have all the ingredients for perfect chaos!

My Solution to the problem
My Take on this? Instead of seperating lanes for vehicle categories, have lanes with minimum and maximum speed limits say – min 35 kmph and max 50 kmph. Have a hi-speed lane in the centre and two more slower lanes on either sides. No overtaking on any part of the road. So, Vehicles heading longer distances will travel in the center hi-speed lane. When they have to exit, move to one of the side lanes, slow down and then exit. This way, the buses and autos can drive slowly in the left most lane. Its very important that people should start using indicators while changing lanes and respect other vehicle’s indicators. If a car in front of you is trying to enter from a slower lane, yield. Once people learn to respect each other’s time and safety, our problem is mostly solved. The key factors in this system should be minimum speed limit which will reduce traffic stalling and in turn reduce overtaking urges and maximum speed limit to make sure no one gets too carried away because of the smooth movement of vehicles. If the vehicles in the slower lanes need to overtake, they should move into the fast lane, overtake and then get back in slow lane or stay in the fast lane. This, way the center lane will be always moving fast and smooth.

This system will work better because in narrow roads you can have just 2 lanes – one fast and one slow with no exits on the right side. Another advantage of this system would be that when Ambulance/VIPs pass by, the vehicles needn’t be stopped. All the vehicles should move out from center lanes to slower lanes when they hear the siren and stay there till the ambulance or VIP convoy has passed and then move back to the fast lane. This would work out for most of our roads. I have some more theories on how we can better manage the traffic on the road. And would love to present them to the authorities. But, I wonder who cares. Sadly, I can only rave and rant in my blog here. Hoping that someday, someone with better access to the authorities will be able to put these ideas into action.

While on the topic, here’s another article in Hindu published on Dec 11, 2004 on the same topic. The discusses in detail why the lane system is failing in chennai!

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