Published : Times of India
On receiving a violation ticket for stepping over a zebra crossing,a car driver felt outraged.It is too small an offence to be booked,he fumed.There are so many autorickshaw and lorry drivers.Book them first,he said.
In 1996,George Kelling published a book Broken Windows.The title comes from the following example: consider a building with a few broken windows.If the windows arent repaired,the tendency is for vandals to break a few more.Or consider a sidewalk.Some litter accumulates,soon more litter accumulates,and eventually people start leaving bags of trash from restaurants.A successful strategy for preventing vandalism,according to the author,is to fix the problem when its small.Repair the broken window and vandals are less likely to do further damage.Clean up the sidewalk every day and the tendency is for the litter not to accumulate.Similarly,not respecting pedestrian crossings may be too insignificant an offence for motorists but it amounts to robbing pedestrians their right to cross the road safely.Not to forget that 60% of fatalities on our roads are pedestrians.
Suggestions pour in daily to spread awareness and further education rather than harass motorists in the name of imposing fines.But is there anyone in the city who isnt aware of the fact that red means stop If so,why do traffic police personnel have to prosecute more than 4 lakh people every year for simple things like jumping signals And this is not even 10% of the actual incidence.Is it lack of awareness or an attitudinal problem
Most people jump a red signal because they believe in the chalta hai syndrome.Do we have to teach our children to remove footwear before entering a temple Its the value system practised by parents and not the fear of punishment that makes them do so.Many people wear helmets not for safety but for fear of a fine.Enforcement per se can be a temporary deterrent but cannot alone lead to sustainable attitudinal transformation.Demand for harsher treatment of illiterate autorickshaw and semi-literate bus/lorry drivers keeps coming repeatedly as if they are the only curse for the traffic.What about highly educated and aware citizens who drive on the same roads defying every possible rule and logic
From Tokyo to Los Angles,there is no city which does not face congestion on the roads.Even roads with tens of lanes get choked during peak hours or heavy rain.Nowhere in such situations,road users behave as we do here.People wait for their turn instead of honking endlessly or resorting to serpentine movements by squeezing into every inch of space available on the road irrespective of right of way.In our desire to reach home faster,we ride on pavements,block cross-traffic and even opposite traffic,leading to a gridlock and road rage.No one denies the inadequacy of infrastructure or even traffic management but our road-user behaviour,instead of facilitating a solution,aggravates the problem.
Even the best of psychiatrists havent been able to explain the genesis of indiscipline on Indian roads.Could it be prolonged subjugation by foreigners leading to abuse of the freedom we gained 62 years ago Or the fact that we are still struggling with basic needs of life and,therefore,road sense is too minor an issue;or it is the habitual competitiveness which is also seen on our roads where motorists try to occupy every inch available at the cost of road safety and discipline;or inadequate enforcement No one knows! Traffic compliance is less an issue of awareness and more a problem of attitude.But should we wait for the whole building to be smashed and not repair a single window that is broken
Author: Praveen Sood
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