Want Better Roads In India? Discipline The Traffic Department First.

Safer Roads for YouEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #SaferRoadsForYou, a campaign by Safer Roads for Gurugram and Youth Ki Awaaz to understand the behaviour of road users and advocate for the importance of road safety. Join this conversation and tell us about your experience on Indian roads here.

India has roads, but the people using them don’t follow traffic rules. There is a necessary amount of space on these roads, but there is an urgency to move in people’s minds. The speed on the roads is not manageable as running fast is the need of the hour.

Road corners are beset with men in uniform who show no remorse in extracting “hush” money from violators of road safety rules. These truths cannot be rejected in any way.

If I take into account spacious roads in the Cantonment area, the accidents there are taking place because of speed. Not only do two-wheeler drivers move fast but four-wheeler owners show full dexterity in overtaking vehicles in front of them. In such adroitness, an accident, either major or minor, happens every other day.

Minimum speed control standard must be observed on broad roads. About 37% of accidents occur due to over speeding. According to Rohit Baluja, Director at the Institute of Traffic Education, New Delhi, deaths have been increasing in road mishaps every year. Over speeding remains the biggest cause behind road accidents. He also disclosed that there had occurred as many as 19,320 deaths in the year 2016, 20,124 deaths in the year 2017 and this figure had increased in the year 2018 in Uttar Pradesh.

Though two interceptors had been installed in the city areas five years ago, these gadgets have no longer been in working order for the past two years. The drawback is that the traffic department has not been able to repair the defunct speed sensors owing to the paucity of required finance.

Sushil Kumar, SP (Traffic) made it clear that if the state government released budget for the maintenance the repairing would be done. Behind this problem, no challan was issued against over speeding in two years. Regarding speed limits, the permitted limit has been given: 100 km p/h on the national highways, 80 km p/h on GT Road, 20 km p/h on Meston Road, 40 km p/h on the Mall Road in the city. Owing to over speeding, a total of 237 deaths took place in the year 2017 while it enhanced to 252 deaths in the year 2018 in Kanpur. While as many as 7,148 deaths took place in 2016 and 7,445 deaths in 2017 in UP.

About 37% of road accidents occur due to over speeding.

As far as the city’s busy market roads are concerned, the major problem is of encroachment on the roads and even the pavements wherever those footpaths exist. There persists no strict rule in ending this ailment forever. The police, of course, conduct anti-encroachment drives along with civic bodies but they loosen up after massive protests by trade organisations.

Here, the district administration takes a back foot as it cannot annoy at least the ruling party associations. Therefore, there remain only half-hearted campaigns against encroachments which do not last long. So long as the congested roads will not be cleared the problem cannot come to an end for all time.

Whatever is kept in mind by the state departments responsible for keeping the roads even and potholes free must not be lax in its accountability. If the road is damaged it should be repaired on a daily basis. A hassle-free road can minimise the accidents in ample quantity. Advertisers can put a damper on advertising which glamorises and/or promotes risky practices and products.

The basic problem is that the traffic department does focus more on a helmet, seat belt and necessary papers but it overlooks the sudden surge of the traffic on the main roads. Its personnel never realise the requirement of compelling the two-wheeler rider to adopt some narrow way to reach the destination. They seldom manage traffic movement to pass it in a smoother way.

Not once, but several times traffic police personnel were found sitting idle on their motorcycles at a safe spot alongside the road. Despite looking at the heavy rush their interest is not ignited in lessening the long jam or congestion. Why they take on a lackadaisical approach is not wholly hidden in the heavy layer of dust.

Suggested Solutions

First, traffic police personnel should be disciplined themselves in order to bring the riders to the precincts of discipline. An individual road user can attain greater understanding, awareness and practice of safe road behaviour and skills if those that are responsible to implement the law tend to be more honest and accountable to their jobs.

One can also make a personal commitment to improving road safety by adopting more courteous and considerate road behaviour and demonstrating care for the safety of others. The idea of road safety, in a more larger and long term context, has to emerge from an individual’s sense of responsibility. And this responsibility has to be inculcated by every person using the road, which is basically everyone in the country. Again, the government should take certain steps to initiate and achieve this. The first attempt could be at the level of issuing driving license itself. The RTOs shouldn’t issue licenses as easily as they currently do. The test has to be more strict, it can’t just be about by-hearting road signs or seeing if the drivers/ riders can change gears and drive in an ‘8’ shape. The final driving license test should be on real roads, where the inspector will check the temperament of the person who is taking the test.

Next, vehicle manufacturers can adopt an advertising code which promotes safety features and performance of vehicles and its responsible usage.

It is a two-way process that begins with those who are responsible for the smooth execution of traffic laws that help ease the daily mess we see on our roads. And next about the responsible implementation of these laws by the citizens. Once laws are enforced more strictly, there is be decorum on the roads automatically.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Milind Shelte/India Today Group/Getty Images.
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