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The Murder of Traffic Etiquette

February 16, 2019 | By

The chaotic traffic situation in India’s cities is a result of insensitive and undisciplined behaviour of people on the roads. A short essay on the collapsing traffic etiquette.

The chaotic traffic is part of every Indian city (Pic: Wikimedia NOMAD [CC BY 2.0])

The roads are crushed by huge volumes of vehicular traffic 24/7. From autos to the big Audis, each person is in a mad rush without a care or thought that there are others who also have the same right to use the roads and need to reach their destinations in time. People rushing to work, huge buses ramming their way, meddling auto drivers, sneaking two wheelers along with the regular commuters – the only commonality among all of them is the disrespect and flippant attitude towards traffic rules.

The situation of traffic is deteriorating every single day. The roads are so jam packed that vehicles graze against each other. Drivers wanting to take a right turn stand at the extreme left only to block other vehicles going straight. Many drivers conveniently forget that they have something called an Indicator on their vehicles which needs to be switched on before taking a turn. Impatient two wheelers try to reach the front of the queue at traffic signals just as a mouse tries to reach the cheese in a jig saw puzzle.

On one hand, upstart drivers have their ear plugs on, paying minimal attention to the honking around while on the other hand, youngsters find a vicarious pleasure in blaring horns on their latest trendy bikes, shrill and loud enough to give a senior citizen or a woman driver a heart attack. Auto drivers behave as if they are the only road tax payers and swerve and stop abruptly without any warning or indication. If the driver behind them is a little inattentive a line of collision is inevitable.

Drivers, who cannot keep away from their mobiles are seen texting with one hand on the steering wheel and the eyes on the phone while driving. The complete lack of concern for other drivers’ convenience is a growing trend. A person having an expensive car generally assumes that he can talk on the phone even if he is in the middle lane, indirectly not allowing the cars to overtake him on either side.

A large number of drivers never switch off the indicator, confusing the drivers behind them as to where are they headed to. You will often find a husband and wife talking on the two-wheeler and the child falling off to sleep on the tank. Or the pillion rider can be seen holding the helmet as a bangle only to ward off the police and get away without paying a fine. Every third driver is in the wrong lane or coming from the opposite direction. This situation is universally seen on every Indian road, especially in urban areas.

Explosion in population has led to the number of vehicles on the roads burgeoning. The government is widening the roads and cutting trees to increase road space but is this the only solution to this huge problem? At the end of the day we only toss comments like’ traffic was horrible today’; ‘stuck in the traffic jam for 2 hours’; ‘youngsters do not have traffic sense’ and so on. But what do we do about this ourselves?

The problem is not only about the growing number of vehicles on the road but the miserable mindset of the people driving the vehicles. It’s easy to blame the traffic police, who many a time are unable to control the mindless chaos on the roads. It’s high time that people start realizing that an ambulance should be allowed to go ahead.

The change in mindset has nothing to do with EDUCATION. It is about getting our common sense, civic responsibility and traffic manners right. If we all decide to abide the traffic rules and bring some discipline on the roads as well, definitely the accidents and accidental deaths and traffic jams will lessen. Why should we wait for others to start? Bring out the agile leader in you and set a bench mark for others to follow. Let’s take the first step towards building a better India, a traffic chaos free India.

Aditi is pursuing her PHD doing freelance work with the state govt as well as reputed funding agencies from Tata Trusts, UNICEF, Oxfam. She was working in the Development Sector earlier. Her areas of expertise are Disability, Gender, Child rights and Accessibility. She has written for The Times of India and Indian Express. She writes for VIDURA, Grassroots, Coffee Bytes and Odisha Live on a variety of issues. Writing acts as a perfect stress buster for her.
All Posts of Aditi Panda

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4 thoughts on “The Murder of Traffic Etiquette

  • Vaibhav

    To add to the above issues, dedicated BRTS lanes are usurped by private/commercial vehicles. There is basic lack of intellect. We need a military code to conform to traffic rules. Humans unfortunately follow the path of least resistance. We try to take the easy way out whenever possible. A sense of discipline can be inculcated only with the use of strict action against the offenders.
    Volume of traffic cops should be increased to man the signals with ease.
    Cameras should cover the primary areas of violation to begin with and gradually, the entire city should be covered.
    Ridiculous and exorbitant fines should be levied for even small offences. For example, lane cutting – 5000. driving and talking on the mobile – 15000. Drunk driving – no fine, only jail term.
    Evidence of the offence should be captured by the camera/devices and not be verbal. The fines should be remitted directly in the government account.
    Wrong side driving can be eliminated by installing one-way spikes or “tyre killers”

    Mollycoddling and drilling sense into the thick heads of the populace isn’t gong to work. Once the fines drill a hole in their pockets, people will change. A small hike in fuel automatically drives people to make changes to their monthly budget.

    1. Aditi panda

      Yeah, actually its simple common sense and conscience . if each person follows some basic traffic rules 80 percent issues will melt away. we do it when we go abraod and follow them there because we are scared of penalty but why donot we do that in our own home?

  • SUNDEEP CHETTY

    Good write. Be it traffic or pollution or population… they are all different shades of the same problem. Our booming economy (many will disagree) had handed a lot of disposable money to consumers who are now buying cars and upgrading very frequently. Car / two wheeler makers are going for the kill. Today we have global car model launches with simultaneous launch in India.

    Most of the people don’t know how to drive cars, yet are on the roads. Licences are easily obtained by paying bribes. Learners are driving in the overtaking lanes. Total chaos. Unless every citizen contributes, with due support from law enforcement agencies, there’s no solution in sight.

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