Education versus regulation

Yesterday’s Hindu has an article on the state of our traffic with 2.5 million vehicles on the roads, out of which 1.8 million are two wheelers. It also goes on to say that, of the sanctioned 2500 positions in the traffic police, about 25% of them are not filled! That means we are short of 625 traffic policemen who could help bring order out of the chaos. The mandate of the traffic police has also been extended to far flung suburbs, stretching them thin. The article goes on to say that these are the reasons why the traffic police are not able to be present in sufficient numbers to regulate traffic.

We can’t resort only to regulation, as in ensuring people follow traffic rules (even that isn’t done in many places where the police are present), especially when we don’t have enough police. So what about a concerted effort to educate people on what is expected of them on the road? Rules, courteous behavior, what dangerous driving can result in and the like? Then it could relieve the policemen on the road from dealing with drivers and riders who don’t have a clue what the rules are, what courtesy on the road demands, the need to yield when people are trying to drive on to the road etc.

Why is it that this is something that’s constantly ignored by the authorities despite being the desperate need today? Even The Hindu, when it does write about the state of the traffic, misses this point entirely. Unless citizens are educated about the rules and expected behavior on the roads, and unless issuing of licenses is based on stringent criteria which includes a thorough knowledge of traffic rules and expectations, there is not going to be any improvement on our roads. Not only that, its time they started a system of three warnings, followed by impounding of licenses for repeat offenders. Only then will the concept of accountability be understood, and people start behaving more responsibly.

When, oh when will this be understood, accepted and implemented by the government?

2 Comments so far

  1. peter (unregistered) on July 16th, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

    good post, David… I often say that the State of New York gives out driver’s licenses in the same manner that boxes of “Crackerjack” give “prizes” (i.e. trinkets).

  2. Tom (unregistered) on July 16th, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

    Hear hear! They could perhaps use one of the miniature traffic school setups like the one near Birla Planetorium. (By the way, how hilarious are those things?)

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