While the traffic situation in Pune is still not improving, lot of volunteers and NPO (Non-Profit Organizations) are coming forward to improve the situation. Government and traffic police department is also spending a lot in creating awareness.
Most of these campaigns are focusing on the safety aspects of the traffic rules. For example:
1. Wear Helmets
2. Follow traffic rules and avoid accidents
3. Don’t use mobile phones while driving
All these are good advertisements, it does not connect with me (as a common man) because I know the probability of meeting with an accident every day is not that high. Almost 99% of the time I am troubled with too much of traffic and delays due to traffic jams. Common cause for this is undisciplined drivers who do not follow lanes, do not obey traffic signals, believe that by driving on wrong side of the road they will reach early and so on…
If I have to do a campaign, I will do it to address these issues. I can use video clippings of disciplined traffic. I will focus on the cumulative benefits on time saving. I will focus on cumulative saving on oil (this is current hot topic as well).
Just to give you an example, let’s say if 4-5 errant drivers create a traffic mess to save two minutes of travel time. This would save them let’s say two rupees of petrol. Total saving for these guys would be not more than 20 rupees. Now once they land in mess, they get stuck for 10 minutes each. But they also cause a traffic jam due to other similar drivers going on wrong side of the road. This causes a delay of 20 minutes to about 200 vehicles at least. Now if each vehicle spends petrol worth 5 rupees each (roughly 100 ml) in those 20 minutes, the cumulative waste for 200 vehicles is about 1000 rupees compared to saving of 20 rupees.Is this not a reason enough for those 4-5 drivers to go a little slow and spend those 20 rupees rather than wasting 1000 rupees for all of the vehicles?
I don’t have enough connections and networking to take this up. I hope somebody reading this has. Even if they don’t, at least we can implement it for ourselves. One thing I do regularly is to give way to another person crossing my road before there is a line behind. This causes me 10 seconds may be but avoids a traffic jam or halt of 2 minutes later for at least 50 vehicles. There are many ways to improve speed of traffic on the road. Discipline can actually make traffic faster and still safer than today.
For past few days I am going to office by car rather than the company bus. More and more I travel by car, I have observed that the traffic jams in Pune are caused primarily by drivers driving on wrong side. On a 4 lane road, you are going at good pace as there are not many vehicles on your side and suddenly you find that one of the rash drivers from the oncoming side is driving on the wrong side without any provocation. I say "Hey! that’s my side you are driving on!" A typical Puneri answer you will get is "What’s the problem man? You have some much space further to your left! Why don’t you give us some space"
Am I responsible if there is so much traffic on your side, I say. I have every right to drive on my side of the road. I finally have started doing one thing. I just keep my side and stop in front of the errant driver’s vehicle. This causes lot of anger on their part but I keep my cool and do not abuse anyone or say anything. At least I am resisting and not letting these guys go. My wife says, why am I wasting my time on these people, but if no one resists, people will keep doing wrong things. Isn’t it?
This reminded me of something that we used to do when I was in school. Remember in our geometry box we have something called as divider? A small tool with two pointed needles? It was not just a tool for geography. We had wooden benches in those days. So this divider was used to divide our desktop in two halves and the bench partners would fight for their share of the desktop. I was not allowed to move my book on the other half of the desktop and I did not allow my partner to do that as well. You know… fighting for our own area was in our blood. I am sure this trend is still there in school children. Why not use that same spirit on the roads? Will this not better the situation? One of the foremost thing that needs to be implemented in Pune traffic is lane discipline. I am using my childhood learning to do my bit.
Breaking traffic rules is many time not very obvious to Punekar’s. They don’t even realize that they are breaking the rules and if you try to stop them from doing it, Punekar’s get very cross. However, rules are rules and five most commonly broken traffic rules in Pune are
1. Driving on the wrong side of the road when the road divider strip is continuous: When the road dividing strip is continuous, it means that you are not suppose to cross it and go on the wrong side. When it is double and continuous, it is even stricter. But still people casually cross this line.
2. Cutting the corners: While taking right turns, most of the people do not realize that they are cutting the corner short i. e. they are on the wrong side of the road. Lot of people think that if there are 5-6 oncoming vehicles from the other side, taking the turn early will help then go quickly. But in reality it happens the other way.
3. Crossing the stop line at signals: Punekar’s are always busy looking at other sides’ signal. If they are in the front row, they are so lost in thought that they slowly start coming forward when any other side gets green signal. I have never understood this. When the signal is green, the additional 10 meters that we have crossed when we were waiting hardly matters. Do we do something really significant in the time saved? Also most of the time when crossing the stop line we are preventing the pedestrians from crossing the road. These pedestrians then are caught in the middle of the traffic and cause more hindrance.
4. Driving on the wrong side of the road when the divider does not have any opening nearby: If you do not have enough money to drive extra 100 meters to go to other side of the road, why do you buy the vehicle? Should having enough money to buy the vehicle be the eligibility criteria or should having enough money to buy the fuel be the eligibility criteria?
5. Recognizing other people’s right to way: Everyone on the road has right to way. When some other vehicle is trying to cross the road or trying to take turn, most of us rush in as if we will be losers we give way to others. Many times giving way to one crossing vehicle allows everyone to go in quick time. We do the same to pedestrians as well.