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Traffic Regulation by Fits & Starts

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By S Paul

We have heard that the traffic management by Dehradun police and the administration will soon involve restrictions/ban on e-rickshaws plying on main city roads and highway passing through. Why has this slow moving hence not accident prone and non-polluting public conveyance been targeted for ‘traffic improvement? It is an obvious ‘bits and pieces’ management technique which would not be either in the interest of the public or the e-rickshaw operators. Such a safe and no pollution public transport must be given full encouragement. However, if this environment friendly public transport is to be controlled then let it run exclusively in all narrow lanes and the use of such lanes be banned for Vikrams and Mini Buses.
A typical example of such an area, requiring such restrictions is Dalanwala, where earlier only Tongas were permitted to ply and even Vikrams were forbidden and buses completely banned. Allowance may be made during certain periods for school traffic, only, and only in specifically designated lanes. Similar areas in the city should be identified and declared out of bounds to all others, permitting only e-rickshaws and auto/taxis.
However, it must be noted by our traffic management system that the most blatant traffic rules offenders are the Two Wheelers. With impunity they zip through slow moving traffic or a traffic jam overtaking from right and left, putting other vehicle drivers under stress. They have no sense of lane driving, which most of the roads and lanes of the city are not even marked or designed for. These two wheelers drive unchecked in the opposite direction of declared one way traffic lanes. Seeing them, sometimes, even three wheelers and cars follow them. This shows how degraded we have become in our social behavior and in observing discipline. The traffic management being planned must address this menace to start with. Intensive use of media and poster campaigns should be resorted to make the public aware of such discipline and penalties.
Mere increase in fines would not curb the menace of traffic indiscipline by the citizens. It is a known fact that the offenders get away by bribing law enforcement authorities and go on to commit such offences again. At all check points there should be active CCTVs being monitored centrally to record the transgression. Also, instead of a simple driving license digicard, the RTO must start issuing a chip embedded offence recording system on licences. Any offence must then be recorded in such a chip by the police on the spot and the penalty recorded. The police should be equipped with such a gadget. If the record shows repeated offences, then suitable penalty or suspension of license should be done on the spot and the vehicle impounded.
Through this article I would also implore the traffic management authority and any knowledgeable citizen to let us know by which traffic rule and act or court sanctioned amendment, tractors and tractor driven trolleys (a transport on two chassis not meant for urban use) are being run in city limits with impunity. If it is illegal then the authorities themselves are guilty in breaking traffic rules and should be taken to task and such transport must be immediately banned. Only single chassis load carriers and water browsers should be permitted within the city limits.
It has also been observed that when driving on a wide road with marked lanes; the trucks, tractors, buses, etc., tend to drive on the right most lane, which should be for the fast and lighter vehicles like cars, ambulances, minivans, etc. The world over the left most half lane is meant for two wheelers, bicycles and, in our land, for animal driven carts and hand carts. Then the lane to its right is for heavy load carrying and buses. Then, if possible, an over taking lane and the right most is meant for fast light vehicles like cars, minivans, ambulances, etc. Even if such lanes are not marked, the citizens themselves ensure such a discipline. Offenders are recorded on CCTV and stopped at the next police check post and penalised. Can we ever reach such a state of discipline in our country? I wonder!
Even on 6 September, I encountered an unruly shouting two wheeler-riders’ crowd of about 50-60 near Araghar Chowk, riding without helmets and covering the whole road, defying the newly imposed traffic rules.
Within the city, hours must be fixed and strictly imposed for permitting heavy vehicles including cranes /JCBs/ Dozers/ Garbage carrying large trucks, etc., to go about their chores. These should work only in the leanest traffic density hours or at night. All service providers and garbage cleaners must also compulsorily function between dusk and dawn only, clear up their garbage/malba and leave the roads fully repaired, for the day traffic to ply unhindered the next day. I have seen this done in most western nations and also some of our own metro cities. In order to improve the flow of traffic further, the authorities must ban scooter/motor repair shops and welding fabricators operating on the road side. They should have their workshops deep off the roads. None of their wares or waiting vehicles should be permitted to block the road passage.
Another aspect of our road use that endangers traffic is cartage of overhanging loads of steel rods, pipes, fabricated metal frames being ferried on small vehicles, animal driven carts, cycle rickshaws and carts, hand carts, even two wheelers. The law exists against such transportation but invariably the enforcement is lax. ‘Chalta hai to chalney doe’ and ‘junta kee roti paani ka sawal hai’ – all with the active blessings of our political leadership.
It is also learnt that the road user vehicles like road rollers, JCBs, cranes, dozers, animal and human carts are not classified under the Motor Vehicles Act. If so, why are these permitted to use the roads and lanes at the same time as other transport which pays the road tax?
The pedestrians in our country are the most pampered users of the roads. They can walk in any direction, cross anywhere, stop any public transport anywhere to alight or dismount. These also must be made to obey certain discipline while using the public roads such as crossing only at designated Z crossings with traffic light control, getting on and off public transport only at the designated stops and never jaywalk on roads or foot paths.
With all this laxity and social indiscipline we dream of becoming a world class society! It is time that our elected leaders, not working for votes or enhancement of their own status, help our citizens to learn social discipline and concern for others.
The administration should use the media and display through posters and slogans publicity material that makes people conscious of their responsibilities towards traffic management. Citizens, especially the young must ‘take pride in observing traffic rules rather than breaking them’.