When will we take traffic management and road discipline seriously?

That’s a question both for the traffic police and all of us who use the roads. The Hindu has broken its monumental silence on the subject with two photographs in today’s paper of traffic rules being broken with impunity. Traffic traveling on the wrong side of the road because road users cannot be bothered to wait for a line of traffic to clear is routine business. Rash driving is common, as is overtaking on the left and slow traffic hogging the centre lane. The seriousness with which traffic rules are implemented and followed in many countries has to be seen to be believed. With the explosion in two wheelers and cars, and the coming explosion in traffic density which the low cost car projects will herald, are we prepared for it? I think not. Take the famously over-exposed case of Paris Hilton in the US. What everyone focuses on is the 45 day jail sentence she served in a Los Angeles County jail. What did she do the sentence for?

Paris Hilton pleaded ‘no contest’ when stopped in January 07 for reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol. (Ever heard of anyone being stopped here for reckless driving? There are thousands who would qualify!) She was charged, but allowed to drive after that on parole (probation), but was stopped doing the same thing twice there after. And then convicted and given a 45 day jail sentence. This isn’t the girl next door we are talking about! Paris Hilton, leave alone being an international celebrity, (for all the wrong reasons, but never mind) is an heiress of the Hilton Hotels estate, and worth billions of dollars. You can bet she had the best attorneys, the best advice and the most powerful influence possible. But according to the Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo, “No one is above the law”. Read all about it on ABC here. There’s a strong message there for all of us.

6 Comments so far

  1. silanthimanithan (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 8:22 pm


    You rightly pointed out that even people at the top of the society in the west are held accountable for crimes affecting the lay folk. But, here in tamilnadu, we have such leaders with lack of scruples that the philosophy trickles all the way down.

    Like, a karunanidhi sitting in the CM’s chair with impunity even after openly strutting two wives. This is a crime unless he converts to Mohammad Karumandiranidhi. This fellow is hailed as the savior of Tamil(sic!) and we talk about accountability of common folk in any realm!!!

  2. More here on traffic. (unregistered) on July 1st, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

    TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

    Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for official rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are somewhat safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

    In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian drivers’ license or a valid international drivers’ license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India choose to hire a local driver.

    On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. For instance, buses and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Indian drivers tend to look only ahead and often consider themselves responsible only for traffic in front of them, not behind or to the side. Frequent use of one’s horn or flashing of headlights to announce one’s presence is both customary and wise. It is usually preferable to have a licensed experienced driver who has a “feel” for road and driving conditions.

    Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, and free-roaming livestock. Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic is coming in the “wrong” direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.

    If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle’s occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.

  3. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 12:45 am

    It would have wasted less space to say “here’s what the US Govt thinks of us” and given a link.

    It may well be that I am getting used to it — I should be, as I have been driving my own car here for over six months now — but I have the sense that some things have improved!

    I don’t remember, as a visitor a few years back, anyone taking much notice of traffic lights: now most people except the driver of buses and trucks actually do stop at red lights.

    The ridiculous thing is it is the professional drivers of the biggest and most dangerous vehicles who have the least respect for the law.

    Even at junctions with police in attendance buses do not stop if no vehicle is stopped in front of them. The police do nothing about it.

    This could be changed in days if the police started stopping and prosecuting these drivers.

  4. tsk tsk (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2007 @ 2:22 am

    Although i would like to see better traffic managerment, Organizing our traffic is a near impossible task thanks to the following reasons

    1. Inadequate public transport ( lesser than required buses, poor utilization of suburban trains, nuisance autos)
    2. Poor public transport driving (buses swinging across lanes, autos going slow in the middle of the road)
    3. Armada of privately owned two wheelers, that actually contribute to alot of chaos on the road that also cause poor volumetric efficiency of road usage(over taking, zig zag driving, driving in the middle of lanes rather than on the side of the road )
    4. Non existance of air conditioned public transport – which is the only solution to actually take two wheelers off the road
    5. inconsistent width of roads and also, iadequate width of roads
    6. poor infrastructure
    7. Inadequate width of footpaths , footpaths are too high, there are encroachments on the foot paths, which all cause pedestrians occupy an extra lane on the road, narrowing the road even further
    8. Parking in no parking zones

    well, if we take care of these for a start, we could see better traffic.

  5. anonymus coward (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 1:32 am

    Thanks TSK TSK for the comment, especially for point no.4.

  6. A Joglekar (unregistered) on July 12th, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of driving on Indian roads. This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training rather than criticism.

    At present 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. To watch the videos, please visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

    Please publish / forward this link and help change the driving culture on our roads

    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

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