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.