Urbanization comes with a cost and terrible traffic is just one of them. Our times strongly call for an innovative plan for traffic management, but at cost effective rates. Road traffic management mainly involves a smooth flow of traffic and avoidance of accidents. Maintaining discipline on the roads is the end view.
The primary methods used to achieve road discipline are traffic signal control, traffic monitoring, and access management. These methods are more effective, when combined with innovative but simple traffic management techniques.
In populated areas, opportunities to build up access points and remove underused signals are plenty and should not be overlooked. If an area is under a redevelopment project, traffic flow should be managed by creating turn-lanes, service roads, etc. in co-ordination with property owners and developers.
The volume of traffic has increased manifold over the last decade. Traffic management devices like traffic lights and signs quickly become obsolete, leading to congestion and chaos. These devices should be upgraded from time to time, after a thorough analysis of the traffic situation.
Today’s traffic management techniques are driven largely by developments in engineering and technology. Not only is the installation of sophisticated traffic management systems costly, but also require a higher level of maintenance. However, effective management systems can be made affordable, with effective and careful budgeting. Also, traffic management centers can be operated jointly by the government and private sector contractors, who can provide maintenance at reduced costs.
Besides the implementation of technological advances, a few basic rules should be made mandatory in every city/town. One of the elementary methods of bringing down accidents by at least 85% is the strict enforcement of speed limits. For reckless driving and over-speeding, heavy penalties should be imposed. But for the effective implementation of this rule, co-operation and honesty by the Road Traffic Officers is fundamental. Installation of tamper proof speed controllers for all heavy vehicles can also be helpful. Children, below a certain age, should be prohibited from cycling on busy roads, where heavy vehicles are plying. Safety awareness should be made a mandatory part of the academic curriculum in primary schools. If safety awareness is imparted during childhood, it is likely to be followed throughout adult life.
Charles M. Hayes rightly said “Safety First” is “Safety Always.” These words should be the guiding motto for the citizens of the country and it should be borne in mind that road safety is not only necessary for the individual, but also for the society on the whole.
Despite having the world’s second largest roads network of 3.2 million kilometers; the condition of Indian roads is appalling. Burdened with the responsibility of 70% of the country’s freight & cargo,and an astonishingly high 85% of the nation’s traffic; the roads are far from safe. They are in urgent need of attention, quality-control, and safety regulation.
The accidents that take place on an alarmingly high rate on our roads spell some very scary figures.For instance, Personal Injuries sustained across Indian roads occur too frequently. The number of fatal road accidents in India is 1.8 lakh every year and increasing. Further, 350 people die &7000 people are injured everyday due to road accidents. That translates to 1,27,750 and 25,55,000 each year respectively. The ratio of Injured to Killed 1: 20. The most disillusioning part, more than half these fatalities are of people between the ages of 15 & 44 years, making them the family bread winners!
Aside from the unquantifiable emotional loss owing to people-related accidents, the sorry state of the road network also witnesses a huge amount of monetary losses. Traffic snarls, a common occurrence across towns & cities in India, causes loss of productivity. The loss of man hours and productivity runs into thousands of crores of rupees. The loss in GDP is estimated at Rs 75000 crores, being 1% of the GDP of India!
The road network conditions have reached a critical breaking point. Cities are swelling with traffic, inter-city roads are do not see proper up keep and have increasing accidents, both personal & property, and our dependence on the road network itself, for lack of other robust & efficient transport systems, despite ironically having the world’s largest rail-network; are all causes for grave concern.
One never feels safe. Be it a child going to school, an elderly grandparent taking a walk on the street, a husband driving back into the city after a meeting at an off-site, or pregnant home-maker returning from her groceries shopping. Much less, if one is moving cities and is on an inter-state highway, with family, bag & baggage in tow.
We need to delve deeper into the road-conditions and take it upon ourselves to come up with an urgent & effective set of solutions, and then enforce them.