The Mumbai traffic scenario has come under the scanner of media lately due to a series of incidents involving accidents caused by underage kids who take up the drivers seat. This has raised up lots of questions regarding the involvement of parents and competence of traffic authorities, which has let such an ugly monster raise it's head. As we all have read in the recent articles or heard in the news as to how easy it is to get license for anyone without even appearing for a test, and even if you are under-aged! The parents are also blamed for allowing their children to get access to vehicles.
But, the actual problem is much more deep rooted than that. It's not just the underage driving but the whole culture surrounding vehicles and traffic in India is flawed. Let me make a list of all the flaws in the traffic scenario in India
- Driving Etiquette: The foremost thing that most drivers in India lack is the basic driving etiquette. Their only aim seems to be racing through the traffic as fast as possible to reach from one point to another. A lot of bikers would not even mind riding on the footpath to get out of the traffic jam.
- Not Enough Understanding of Traffic Laws: How many of us can stand up and say that "Yes! I am familiar with the traffic laws of my state. Ask me what you want to know.". Many of us are not even aware of what the traffic signboards put up on the roads mean besides the most familiar ones like 'No Parking' and 'No Honking Zone'.
- Road Crossing: Driving in India is a nightmare. You would find half the humans and their cattle in the middle of the road when you least expect it. This makes it dangerous to the lives of both the parties.
- Shabby Roads: The lesser it is said about the conditions of our roads, the better it is. On some of the place you'd be happy to find a road in middle of the potholes, even in posh areas of Mumbai.
- Right to way: A lot of times I have seen traffic jams happening because people refuse to give way to other vehicles, blocking the whole road. It is a no-win situation.
- No Respect for Traffic Rules: This, IMO, is the single biggest problem of those mentioned here. People see traffic rules as something that is against their fundamental rights. They do their level best to break the rules. Why are police insisting on seat belts and helmets? For the safety of the people on the vehicle. But for most, it is a way for police to exhort money from them. We even disrespect our traffic signals. When was it last that you drove your vehicle through a red light? I am sure that would be a very easy answer for lots and lots of people.
- Traffic Management: Huh? Did I say Management? Traffic Management is a non-existent word in the dictionary of the government. It is very easy to spot pot-holed roads, badly lit streets, non-functional traffic signals, badly diverted traffic.
- No respect for Traffic Police It is a common sight to see people breaking the traffic rules and escaping right in front of the traffic police. Even when the traffic police catch them, more often than not the drivers run away from under their nose and the police are left to watch it haplessly. No point pursuing them for petty offenses.
Some of the problems can be solved by some simple solutions. eg. Having SMS short codes to collect information about damaged roads, faulty signals, oil spillage. The highest priority can be given to problem for which maximum number of complaints have been received. A minimum number can be kept, only above that number of complaints will the action be taken. Other solutions include periodic tests and workshops on traffic rules and regulations and need to follow the same. The solutions exist but who among us would take the responsibility?