Chennai Traffic

If you are living in Chennai, then its most likely that your life has been disrupted by the route deviation imposed on the Mount Road (Anna Salai) between Alexander Square and Chinnamalai Junction.


No. This is not an accident scene. Its regular routine traffic. It just happens to be “our” way of life!!!!

This I believe has been on one bold decision on the traffic department’s part in its losing battle for bringing the city’s traffic into control. By removing all the signals between Alexander Square, Little Mount Jn., Raj Bhavan Jn., Concord Motors Jn. the authorities have tried to smoothen traffic in the city.

But, on the whole it looks like a nice idea, very pathetically executed. Earlier, the signals used to act as throttling agents to control the flow of the traffic. Now, with no signals. The now traffic is best described as an onslaught on mad dogs let out of a cage after months. Chennai is a city, where lanes on the road for designs for the drivers, where indicators are just fancy lights with no purpose, where one driver doesnt care if the other driver dies on the road as long as he can reach his destination 1 minute earlier. In such a place, widening the road, removing signals etc will only close one hole and open up another hole.


The Gemini Fly-over – One of the main arterial roads in Chennai.

Will somebody please tell the “intellectual” morons at the traffic departments who come out with such bright ideas that you CANNOT solve chennai’s traffic problem through infrastructural resolutions. Road widening, building fly-overs etc are infrastructural solutions for a law-and-order problem.

Chennai’s traffic is millions of homicidal psychopaths let out on rampage with the police standing aside helplessly watching. You really want to solve the problem? Consider reading this –

1. In India the key problem is the lack of knowledge of actual traffic laws. Corruption is one reason why this is happening as people can bribe and get their driving license. Another reason is that our road traffic laws haven’t been really revisited for a long time now. They need to be amended to accommodate the the traffic scenario of the present day.
2. Its very easy to get a two-wheeler license. In other countries, one has to have 4-5 years of driving experience before even applying for a two-wheeler license. i.e, one has to have driven a four wheeler for a long time before riding a two wheeler. This law is because of the maneuverability of a two wheeler when compared to a four wheeler. Most two wheeler drivers don’t even understand the plight of a four wheeler driver. They feel that when they overtake a vehicle, they have seen enough space to squeeze through. For a four wheeler driver, the blind spot is much bigger, so when a two wheeler overtakes on the left side, the driver may lose control over his vehicles position on the road. Many two wheeler drivers don’t understand this concept. Most two wheeler drivers think that if there is space to squeeze through then its LEGAL to drive through that space. One of my two wheeler driver friends commented “Lanes? But, aren’t they only for cars and trucks? Lanes are not for two wheelers!” This coming from a BTech software engineer. Imagine what would be case of a illiterate?
3. All “non-register”able vehicles should be banned from the main arterial roads. By “non-register”able vehicles, I mean hand pulled rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and some of those weird contraptions engineered by the local mechanic by fixing a moped engine on a cycle rickshaw. These vehicles stall the traffic. Which will force commuters to break the lane and overtake them.

… the list is endless. But, to solve this problem I would be looking at the following options (in this order)
1. Educate drivers (include traffic rules as part of school syllabus, traffic violators should be asked to attend a 1 day workshop on traffic awareness)
2. Do away with the fines. Add tickets to ur license. If you get more than 5 or 6 tickets in a year, your license will be canceled. For this to work, all licenses should be stored in a database and traffic violations should be listed here. So, that the system knows when the driver has crossed the limits of maximum tickets. In that event, take the license away from the driver and ask the driver to take a driving test.
3. Re-visit the road plans in the cities. We don’t have to work magic. Just try to make sure that we always have one extra lane at every junction for turns. Paint the lanes properly. Place appropriate road signs everywhere.
4. Impose ‘no-overtake’, min speed and max speed on roads.
5. Treat a traffic violation as a crime (I would rather treat it as “deliberate attempt of murder”. Any reckless driver on the road is attempting to murder people around him)
6. Today, as vehicles overtake each other on all sides, in the event of an accident there is no sure way to find out who hit whom. The only way is the stupid theory that the vehicle or driver with more damage or smaller vehicle is always the victim.

… and this list also is a long one ) …… Back to the actual point of usage of technology. Sometime back, I was thinking about what would be the best way to monitor traffic violations and impose rules. My solution also was cameras and speed traps. Speed traps are set on the road sides and calculate the speed of vehicles driving past them. If it finds a car exceeding the limit, it snaps a photograph of that vehicle along with number plate and in some cases even the driver can be seen. Such cameras are placed even at signals to catch people who break the red lights and stop lines. The police don’t enter the scene. The photo is sent by post to owner of the vehicle. And they will be fined when they come back to pay their taxes or whatever.

Unfortunately, I don’t think India can afford to have such expensive technology deployed across the country. My solution would be more raw and make-shift. There are a lot of freelance photographers in the market, the police should engage some of them to stand at some junctions on select days and just take snaps of traffic violations. From the photos the vehicle owners have to be penalized. This needn’t be a daily affair. As long as we instill the fear of getting caught in the minds of the people, 20% of our problem is solved.

I think we can safely assume that 80% of the people out there dont want to break laws, they dont want to have anything to do with the law, police or the court. They would rather play safe than taking risks. There always will be this 20% which doesnt care about law enforcement. This 20% having high connections at political levels will continue to break the law. And till we have a political system and judicial system that is less corrupt than we have today, we cannot do anything about this 20%. But, then if we manage to get 80% of the public driving properly, i think we will be able to fix up our traffic system in a much better shape than is today!

This was a comment I posted at Nita’s blog in response to her blog post –
Technology, not fines will deter offenders. I am not saying I am India’s solution for all it’s traffic problems. Atleast, I am pointing out the most obvious points that the authorities are “choosing” to turn a blind eye at.

NOTE: Why am I bitching about this everyday??????!!! No idea! Maybe its just the frustration that I am unable to do anything about it.

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  1. #1 by markiv on May 2, 2007 - 11:44 am

    grrr… you forget the best part of the brilliant little mount-alexander square thing: the X cross overs… random if it justifies the word! crazy! and whats an X with Guindy and Saidapet on either side of the apex supposed to mean?????? (sheeks… ll get back with a picture of that beauty!)

  2. #2 by raks on May 5, 2007 - 2:48 am

    great! You have caught it right.

    Every day I drive from Ashok Nagar to Saidapet. It should not take more than 5-10 minutes to cover this distance. But in reality it takes around 30 – 40 minutes.

    To learn how worse one can manage the traffic, you need to visit Kathipara junction (here the free left is namesake), bus stop just before the saidapet bridge (now it is a share auto depot and not a bus stop), Ashok Nagar signal after the Ashok Pillar.

    The common man’s traffic rules are not applicable to the MTC buses. Most of the places, they stop at the center of the road. Even if the road is wide, this is enough to cause a traffic block.

    There was a hype the year before last on a website for the traffic police and many sms based services. I am not able to find site anymore.

  3. #3 by p v sekaran on August 10, 2007 - 6:50 am

    Due to the same frustration as udayms has gone through, out of my sheer frustration i was searching the net if anybody at all feels the same, i have landed on his blog.

    I only pity the traffic police though many of them are corrupt.

    Traffic sense is to be imparted not only to common public but also to the traffic police.

    Very installation of dummy Video cameras on every lane of the main arterial roads should help the situation even if these do not capture video images of the violators as we can experience that people are sane in the stretch between Spencers Plaza and whites road signal ( though i could not see any cameras in that stretch as some people tell me that traffic police is watching with cameras in that area)

    Educating youth about the value they get by following the traffic rules by putting all the traffic rules ( dos and donts in popular web sites they visit like hotmail or yahoo mail gmail or orkut community web sites) with the hope that someday they will tend to follow, will surely help

  4. #4 by udayms on August 10, 2007 - 5:46 pm

    you might want to checkout http://chennairoads.wordpress.com

  5. #5 by POTPOURRI on August 10, 2007 - 8:20 pm

    I came here through David’s post on Metblogs. Nice post.
    I had to say this but its kinda irrelevant so sorry 🙂
    So, you mentioned that when someone exceeds the speed limit the device snaps a photo of them with the number plate , right? Well, I heard that now they no longer do that in S.Korea because many men were caught in the photo with their “other women” next to them but the photo along with the ticket was sent to their home(where the wife lived , of course). So , the issuance of the ticket was the cause of several divorces! Funny , eh? To each,his own, problem 😀

    and hey, just now..just a thought..how about getting a bunch of like-minded people together and offer to the govt to develop a system (database and all) that does all/most of the above..its not like we can’t do anything. if you guys get together and actually come up with something, i’ll pitch in. i write code too!

  6. #6 by udayms on August 10, 2007 - 8:59 pm

    @POTPOURRI:
    Actually I am working on a proposal like that. I am writing a series in the http://chennairoads.wordpress.com on solving our traffic issues. I have been bitching, raving and ranting about problems for a long time now. I just shifted focus from problems to plausible solutions.

    And one of the first things I could think of to solve our traffic problems is to have a database of traffic offenders and vehicles. That is the only way to ensure we can implement ticketing mechanism here. Once we have that, people WILL be afraid of getting caught. Anyway, I am planning to post in detail on this 🙂 ….

    and hey, just now..just a thought..how about getting a bunch of like-minded people together and offer to the govt to develop a system (database and all) that does all/most of the above..its not like we can’t do anything. if you guys get together and actually come up with something, i’ll pitch in. i write code too!

    Yes. I think we can do that. I have been mulling over that idea for a long time. Maybe we should just form a group start it.

  7. #7 by potpourri on August 11, 2007 - 5:04 pm

    cool, nice move. will wait for updates.

  8. #8 by rakesh on August 20, 2007 - 8:37 am

    ya ..your blog about the chennai traffic is what i would say taking words out of my mouth..visit my blog to share my experiences with chennai traffic..especially buses 🙂
    http://insomniac-at-work.blogspot.com/2007/08/chennai-traffic-woes.html

  9. #9 by http://driving-india.blogspot.com on October 29, 2007 - 4:34 pm

    Almost 10% of the global road traffic accidents occur in India. Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of the indisciplined driving on Indian roads. Unfortunately in since 60 years since independence the authorities have failed to publish a National Highway code. Licences are given to anyone who can demonstrate an ability to use the clutch-accelerator, consequently the motoer driving schools teach just that and no more. Concepts such as – blindspots, principle of MSM, the tyre & tarmac rule, 2 second gap and most improtantly giving way are not known to the average Indian driver.

    This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training to all Indian road users. It is by far the most comprehensive website providing training in defensive driving. Learning simple road habits can make our roads safe and also free up congestion caused by traffic chaos.

    At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. The video are unique in that the footage is real life action from streets of London. We have copied the Western habits: Replaced the dhoti with denim, high rise buildings for Indian cottages, burgers and coke instead of Indian breads and perhaps sugarcane juice. Surely we can copy the Western ways of travelling too.

    To watch the videos, interested readers may visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

    The videos cover the following topics:

    Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
    Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
    Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
    Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
    Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
    Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
    Video 7: Merging with the Main road
    Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
    Video 9: Never Cut Corners
    Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
    Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
    Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
    Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
    Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
    Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
    Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
    Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

    Many thanks

  10. #10 by Sankar on November 19, 2007 - 12:52 pm

    Hey dude,
    Good job. I was just searching for blogs by people in Chennai who write about traiffic woes in our city. I landed up here and read some of your other posts as well. I too write about traffic concerns, among other things. I just wanted to let you know that I have given a reference to your blog in my blog entry. Feel free to read it when you have time and let me know what you think. Thanks.

  11. #11 by ganesh on January 21, 2008 - 4:14 am

    hi
    As a fellow sufferer and a frustrated person as i cannot change the mindset of the people on roads where anything goes, i too started a blog http://magicpuyal.blogspot.com. Ok I should tell you that I like your point no 5 best. Yes knowing very well that the behaviour may cause accident, injury or death they do this and should be dealt with as criminals or psychopaths! Sometimes I feel only extreme steps will yield results like having spikes at the stopline which popup on red and goes down on green! how’s that?

  12. #12 by tammy on March 24, 2008 - 3:56 pm

    u shud hv been at the traffic meeting on saturday 22nd, march 2008

  13. #13 by sathish on July 14, 2008 - 8:36 am

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  14. #14 by candyman on August 8, 2009 - 1:27 pm

    hai…my nick name is candyman…i don’t want to expose my name… and im an 17 years aged boy… i suggested to get a licence illegally…so i in need to gain some info through browsing… but my mind changed bcoz of some advisors as well as police rules… im sorry 4 my mind…i apologize to all good citizens..thank u..i’ll get my licence legally…its my promise to my fellows…bye..

  15. #15 by Hapimmisp on November 23, 2009 - 11:23 pm

    Many of folks write about this issue but you wrote down some true words.

  16. #16 by Regin on January 27, 2010 - 6:08 am

    Super thought!

  17. #17 by Gopi on July 8, 2010 - 6:17 pm

    A traffic light camera to catch speeding vehicles would be a very efficient solution. It may be expensive to install a network of traffic cameras but once installed, cameras are simple in execution. Cameras could also be placed in non-signal points along a road to catch other violaters like those encroaching onto oncoming lanes. But a camera based system to regulate traffic simply won’t work without a properly laid maintenance schedule — for the cameras — as well as a violater database and associated mailing system. I suspect that the latter will be integrated with existing databases relating to vehicle registrations and driver licenses. Sometimes, rules of the road need to be force-fed to ignorant road-users.

  18. #18 by Ramanan on October 2, 2011 - 1:57 pm

    Daily the traffice is not controlled efficiently by the police men. Due to CMRL projects traffic is high and very difficult task for the driver to drive in the city. Please enforce more policemen in duty to control traffic especially in the sub urban region

  19. #19 by Sathish on November 12, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    Obey Traffic Rules, if caught as for e-challan. CCTP also has a facebook page where complaints can be lodged, more details in http://beginfrom.blogspot.com/2011/11/e-challan-initiative-by-cctp.html

  20. #20 by venkat on June 8, 2012 - 11:08 am

    Hey chennai people, bored of traffic and your shopping is tiring you?
    here is a solution to your needs. visit http://www.storesondoors.com to buy your groceries online

  21. #21 by sowndari on June 15, 2012 - 10:15 am

    don’t have time to go for shopping?
    try for storesondoors.com,the best online shopping store

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