In his inauguration speech President Kennedy said, “Let the word go forth from this time in place to friend and foe alike. The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…We accept this (torch)”
Traffic safety is not about reaction. It is about being proactive. It needs to start at the basics. Firstly it should not be easy to get a driver’s license. Today, it is common knowledge that Rs. 1100 gets you a two-wheeler cum four-wheeler license. You don’t need to do anything but show up at a few places. Although the government has taken measures to ensure that people turn up, those measures do not ensure that people are held accountable.
The perfect scenario would be to teach people that a license to drive is not a license to kill and maim. They have to understand that bad driving will be penalized, and it will be penalized heavily. This is not going to happen if our RTA keeps concentrating on just catching people for not carrying papers. The RTA must start penalizing people for driving badly.
I would like to list out a few points that can help start putting things right:
1. Penalize jumping of red signals heavily
2. Clear footpaths, and penalize pedestrians who do not use the footpath
3. Penalize over crowding of all vehicles, including buses, trains, autorikshaws, taxis, private vehicles, and motorbikes.
4. Penalize people who get-off and get-on to vehicles in areas other than those designated.
5. Enforce proper use of round-abouts. The vehicles are supposed to go around it. 9 out of 10 people in Hyderabad do not use the round-abouts properly.
6. Ensure vehicles do not encroach on to the junction at signals.
Just off the top of my head I can come up with the following locations in the city where traffic rules are broken with impunity.
1. Panjagutta signal. This is ironic as there is a police station at the signal. Still you have people coming from Ameerpet, wanting to go towards Banjara Hills. They will stop half way into the junction and wait for the signal for traffic from Amrita Mall to turn green. So although there is no right turn, people still are in fact taking a right turn there. The biggest violators are the policemen themselves. A few days ago there was an awful traffic jam since one of the “Recovery Vehicles” took a right there. Ironic, isn’t it, that the very people who must enforce the law break it?”
2. The road between NMDC and Sarojini Eye Hospital. Everybody, including policemen, drive on the wrong side of the road there. I can bet you any million of dollars that at any time of day or night you will find traffic violators there. Imagine the plight of someone turning at the Sarojini Hospital round-about. You have to look for traffic from the left, and as you take the turn, you have bikes, autos, and ever cars coming at you from the opposite direction, at a place where you least expect them.
I am sure there are a multitude more such locations in the city.
You, sir, have the torch. It is yours to accept or refuse it. This city is crying out to you for leadership. Please stand up and take action.