Sunday, March 19, 2006

2. TRAFFIC: INDIAN & U.S. STYLES

It was quite past midnight; should be about 1.30 to 2 am. I was
tracking back to my room after a party. I have to be careful, I thought. Since in the evening on the way to the party I missed my way. Though it was a small village of 8000 as its total population, that too, nearly 75% of them being local college students, with straight roads and by lanes cutting at right angles, with large trees on the sides of the roads, individual houses were not easily visible or identifiable with lot of vegetation covering every house. So when I ventured a little in the previous evening to while away a few minutes – I wanted to be right in time for
the party and not before time – I missed my way and was lost for some
time. I don’t want that to happen now late in the night. So I was trudging carefully- the path was also very moist with snow – back home. At last I arrived the main downtown-area. This was a well lit area with four roads radiating. The automatic signals were on. When I reached the junction there was a car waiting for the change of signal. The little inebriation I had evaporated at the sight of it. Because the whole area was deserted; no vehicles or anything on sight but still the man behind the wheels was waiting for the signal before proceeding.

This thing happened in a village, Oberlin, Ohio, U.S., 2 years back.

And on another day I was waiting in another signal. The place was Saidapet
intersection, Chennai, India. Time was 9.20 am.

In the morning peak hour there was a heavy rush and at the junction I
was waiting for the green signal. The automatic digital clock showed 100
and so I put off the engine of my vehicle. When the clock read 10 I
ignited my machine and thought I have another full 10 second count-down.
Voila! Even when 7 seconds remaining, vehicles started moving at mad
pace and though I wanted to wait for green signal, with blaring and
threatening movements from behind I had to jump light to avoid getting jumped over!

Laws will be there. But two things are necessary: one, the will of the
people to have at least a modicum of respect for the law of the land;
and second: the executors of the laws should do what they have to.

10 comments:

மணியன் said...

We have a tendency,as Indians, to violate laws of the land, but for fear of punishment. If there is no vigilance or one has aquintance of the administration, then one surely violates.
Even in Srilanka, I have seen railway gates in the form of a single pole blocking only your half of the way. In India, where people push their cycles underneath the barbed gates to cross and gain one or two minutes, such a system would not work.

sam said...

manian,
my longing is, will we EVER learn to respect the laws of the land.

Masilamanis said...

people to have at least a modicum of respect for the law of the land;
and second: the executors of the laws should do what they have to.///
we have been educating people right from the student level to follow the rules.. They just won't. when they see a police man they try to obey.. otherwise it is just chaos. thanks Sir.

sam said...

sorry masilamani...it is a well known fact that we people dont follow rules. my question to you - why not make us respect laws. i repeat the will to bring things to order is lacking both in law-makers and law-executors.

foreigners are after all human beings like us. they are made to follow rules by strict enforcement and hence things have got into their systems. is it not, sir?

sam said...

one another thing, mr masilamani. i have found one common character in all of us. each of us wants to be the first to take advantage in any situation never allowing willingly the other to have his way. i have seen this as a 'national character' among all us - irrespective of age, literacy, what not! getting into the right extremes of the roads to overtake an ongoing vehicle is a very common thing and that is one of the important reasons for so many accidents on our highways.

i want to share these things with you since only right people like you in the right places can do something about this.

Orani said...

//foreigners are after all human beings like us. they are made to follow rules by strict enforcement and hence things have got into their systems. is it not, sir?//

sam, you just put it in a right way. Actually it is the law enforncement make the people to behave and follow the rules, not just their nationality.

It is a human tendency to break the rules and get the chill heck out of it. Over here in the US, we are following the rules majorly because the FEAR of getting CAUGHT.

That FEAR is deeply embedded in our conscience, for instant, romdomly they have installed cameras with overhanging traffic signal. When someone run through the red signal and get away with it, reaches home safely, so he thinks. But there comes the policeman ticket in the mail for the following week.

However, this camera trick is not so common with every traffic signal post but randomly placed, here and there. But the fear of not knowing where it is placed make people to think twice they take the risk.

What actually this camera does is, take a snap shot of that get away car registration plate, and the rest is taken care of.

Therefore, it is nothing to do with the general population but how it is being handled by the law enforcement. Subam :-).

Orani said...

//foreigners are after all human beings like us. they are made to follow rules by strict enforcement and hence things have got into their systems. is it not, sir?//

sam, you just put it in a right way. Actually it is the law enforncement make the people to behave and follow the rules, not just their nationality.

It is a human tendency to break the rules and get the chill heck out of it. Over here in the US, we are following the rules majorly because the FEAR of getting CAUGHT.

That FEAR is deeply embedded in our conscience, for instant, romdomly they have installed cameras with overhanging traffic signal. When someone run through the red signal and get away with it, reaches home safely, so he thinks. But there comes the policeman ticket in the mail for the following week.

However, this camera trick is not so common with every traffic signal post but randomly placed, here and there. But the fear of not knowing where it is placed make people to think twice they take the risk.

What actually this camera does is, take a snap shot of that get away car registration plate, and the rest is taken care of.

Therefore, it is nothing to do with the general population but how it is being handled by the law enforcement. Subam :-).

sam said...

i appreciate your reinforcement of my idea. we may not be able to bring in all those hi-tech gadgets here in India. we cannot pinpoint the driver of a vehicle from the number plate also here. but still CLEAN cops to collect spot fines can be tried. clean cops i say, since they should not be for any 'bargain'.

Dhans said...

nice to see one more guy like me.

let us obey the laws of land and if may bring atleast 1 guy to follow hereafter.

ஏவிஎஸ் said...

I learned driving in the US, and returned to India after 10 years of driving in the US. I still remember a pair of traffic incidents that occurred within six months of my return. I was in a road inside Saidapet and my driver overshot his target and chose to make a U-turn. In that narrow road, U-turn was difficult. It ended up being a W-turn, i.e. forward, reverse, forward, reverse, forward.. It was 8 or 9 am on a weekday and I was watching with embarrassment the number of cars he was holding up on either side of the road. But, amazingly I did not hear a single vehicle protesting in the form of a honk. Minutes later, we arrived at a junction on Anna Salai (probably the same Saidapet junction you were at), and I started hearing the vehicles behind us furiously honking even as the signal was turning from green to red. What I realized then was that Indian driving is all about efficiency. When you got to wait, you wait. When there is a way to go, you go not wasting a single second.

While not condoning someone beating a red light, I think that if we follow the traffic rules of developed countries, we will be stuck in more serious traffic congestion than what we have now. The solution will be to implement a system that will be appropriate to us.

You are absolutely right about enforcement. But again, we need to be innovative about enforcement. Manual enforcement is not going to be very effective because of the sheer scale of the traffic in our country. We will need some sort of automation.