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Mindjam! Don’t make traffic woes your own

If you are the least bit ambitious in this day and age, you probably are grappling with tall schedules. Our social and personal lives are characterized by a series of dates, appointments, meetings, outings, and some. Our ‘to do’ lists end up looking more like essays than just pointers. Maintaining the mad schedules, juggling tasks with mere minutes between each, can be a challenge.

I am sure most of you would identify with this craziness that is urban living, and not discard them as exaggerations. A common result of falling back on that challenging ‘to do’ list is falling back on life. But for most of us, there’s hardly a choice. The other thing to do is strive to stick to our plans, and acquire a lot of stress in the bargain. This stress, resulting out of personal, social and professional obligations, is experienced right from the time children come to their senses, enough to be enrolled in nursery schools and probably does not end with retirement. And ironically enough, the retirement pensions, funds, insurances are perhaps responsible for the unceasing stress.

However, for the sake of our well-being, emotional as well as physical, there are times when this stress should take a back-seat. Your life, literally, depends on it! How? Your emotional and mental state directly reflects on your driving. You may be in a haste to make it to a meeting or you may have had a showdown in your personal life. What do you do? You drive recklessly, breaching traffic rules, and answer calls while you are at the wheel. It is, therefore, important that you remember your car is not your punching bag or a place of socializing or even your place of work! It is only a mode of transportation and nothing beyond that. It is your binding responsibility to drive carefully, respect all traffic rules for your well-being, as well as of others. An accident is the last thing you want in your already stressful life.

More often than not, mental stress and distractions cause bad driving and traffic jams, and in unfortunate extremes, accidents. The noise pollution and commotion only add to the stress. In these terrible traffic conditions, how you maintain your calm, and your life, is in your hands. Remember that you are not personally responsible for these jams, and your anger won’t solve them. Positive approach is the key. Don’t make traffic woes, your woes.

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Practice Safety on Roads, Enjoy Safe Tea at Home!


Ambitious, astute, competitive, hard working, and tech-savvy – some adjectives that well describe this day and age. People of all ages today can be described thus, and future generations will only be more so.

This competitive society compels you to strive to be exclusive, adaptive and the ‘best’ in every walk of life. One who displays these dynamics, is defined as successful. One competes for getting the best job, at the best company, with the best designation…all the way to getting the best clothes, cars and gadgets. ‘Best’ is a superlative that people try to achieve for their happiness, and that of their loved ones. It is this ‘best’ that helps us secure the future of our families.

The roots behind this ‘best’ remain the basic instincts of security and safety. Hence, the boom of insurance – financial insurance, medical insurance, property insurances, etc. The bad news, however, is that minor facets of our daily routine, which call for utmost care, cannot be insured. Road safety is perhaps the best example of this. One reckless driver is a danger to all on the road, including his own. The big question is, are we conscious of our families and their future when we drive?

Sure, your car insurance will get you the cash for another vehicle. But will your life insurance get your life back?A rough day at work does not permit you to endanger valuable lives, since it is, after all, your family you work hard for. And they deserve your coming home after a long day, and sharing your life with them.

Blessed as you are to have loved ones, take an oath today to buckle your seat belts, switch off your mobile phones and follow traffic rules when you drive. Practice them, and ensure safety in this city full of hustle-bustle…ensure the the smiles of your loved ones. Remember, hard work pays off, only when you can share it with your them.

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Innovative methods for road traffic management

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.

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Steps taken in other countries for effective traffic management – Part 2

With rapid development and proliferation of technology, there has been an equally massive surge in urbanization. According to a number of researches, in the year 2007, for the first time in history, the majority of human population, the world over, lived in cities. This is certainly a massive landmark, and yet, urbanization is happening just as strongly.

Most of the population in cities drives cars, and their number is only expected to rise. Sadly enough, this has also led to an increase in road accidents, and the injuries and deaths they cause. This is a situation which calls for immediate, effective solutions. We must ask the question, “Can our transportation infrastructure and management approaches handle this rise?”

To this end, globally, officials are implementing changes in Road Safety Management. Let’s continue our investigations of some of the more effective ones:

In Stockholm, a dynamic toll system has played a vital role in controlling the flow of vehicles into the city. It has reduced traffic by 20%, decreased wait time by 25%, and cut emissions by 12%.

In Singapore, sensors are installed to measure and predict traffic scenarios, with 90% accuracy.

In Kyoto, city planners study huge traffic situations, involving thousands vehicles, to analyze the impact of urbanization.

In Bangkok, during certain hours of the day, the direction of the traffic on many one-way roads is changed.

Manila has a rather peculiar way controlling traffic. In heavy traffic, vehicles with number plates ending with the numbers 1 and 2 are forbidden from operating on city roads on Mondays, between 7 am and 7 pm, to reduce traffic jams.

Bermuda has gone ahead – imposing similar bans on rental cars.

The Romanians have been very proactive. Logic dictates that in the time-gap in which the accident takes place and the paramedics arrive, a lot can be lost. The Romanian Red Cross, a partner of the Global Road Safety Partnership, addressed this issue by training people on first-aid. The goal is to compliment the efforts of the paramedics, and boost the chances of survival of accident victims.

Remember the walking cars of The Flintstones? Sure you do! The concept exists even today. Students in South Africa get on a ‘Walking’ school bus, and walk in pairs behind an adult driver who directs the route between home and school. Physical fitness, clean and pollution free environment, and strong community relations are only few of the pros of this age-old concept.

If one country uses buses without wheels, another changes the name of its town to promote road safety. Strange but true – a town in Australia, named Speed, decided to modify its name to Speed Kills, to promote road safety. On Facebook, a campaign was launched for the name change, and it was decided that if the campaign received at least 10,000 ‘Like’s, the town would be renamed. It achieved over 33,000.

In conclusion, we can say that effective urbanization needs at its heart an effective transportation system. This increases the emphasis that must be laid on road safety. Let us work towards not just getting better roads from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, but making sure we can travel those roads safely. ‘Smart’ traffic systems can be the key to reaching this goal, but, in reality, it will be achieved only when individuals make efforts.

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Steps taken in other countries for effective traffic management – Part 1

An estimated 1.2 million die, and 50 million get injured, each year due to flaws in traffic and road management systems – and this is no less than a catastrophe! Road injuries were the ninth-leading cause of death the world over in 2004, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, by 2020, they will be “the third highest threat to public life.” If proven true, they will be a threat more serious and dangerous than HIV/AIDS. As such, it has become the need of the hour to implement a more systematic approach to traffic – Road Traffic Management. Firstly, we must recognize the importance of regulating public transport and road traffic. Once key areas are identified, effective measures must be swiftly taken towards the implementation of the plan. By observing the road safety practices of other countries, we can better realize our needs, and identify the measures, that need to be taken with some immediacy:

Europe’s Road Safety Days: Every country has its unique design of traffic management, suitable to its roads and vehicles. In the UK, Malta, Ireland, etc. traffic mainly drives on the left, whereas it is largely the other way round in the rest of Europe. The continent practices ‘Europe’s Road Safety Days’ – a great opportunity to work towards road safety, with many of the youth actively participating, by targeting themes such as alcohol, drugs and education. The first European Road Safety Day was celebrated on 27th April, 2007 – in tandem with the United Nations’ Global Road Safety Week, being commemorated from the 23rd to the 29th of April of the same year.

New York City institutes infrastructure for pedestrians: USA’s safest city is a threat to pedestrians, and research points out that it urgently requires better infrastructure for their safety. To this end, pedestrian countdown signals are being installed, and some busy street are being re-engineered.

England’s town has no traffic lights!: The English town of Portishead, about 120 miles west of London, had an interesting experiment. They turned off the traffic lights on a major road in September, 2009. The four-week study, to solve long-standing congestion at the junction, was not only unique, but also successful. In the trial period, roads were monitored using cameras to see the impact switched-off traffic signals would have on congestion. It turned out that drivers were forced to pay more attention to other vehicles, and pedestrians. And, obviously enough, there were considerable savings on the maintenance of traffic lights.

Kenya says, “Rewards for speeding!”: Nairobi, working closely with the Kenya Red Cross, carried out a radically distinctive workshop for road safety. They said, “Wear a helmet, and speed!” This brought into focus new revelations on specific risks associated with speeding. Techniques are now being developed to counter them.

To conclude, it can be said that innovative techniques of Road Traffic Management maybe easier to implement and more effective. Accidents are rising at an alarming rate, and, more than anything, it is the citizens’ awareness, and active participation, that will help curb the menace. “Precaution is better than cure” is a commonly-used adage, but the question that arises is, “How often do you practice it?”

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Global Rush Hour!

Traffic might be the bane of most of our existences. Especially those of us living in large metro cities in India like Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. But it is a problem and like all other problems, there is a solution. Whether the reason for over whelming traffic in a city is physical, economic or socio-political, one needs to engineer a solution that can efficiently tackle traffic in a city.

Take London as the first example. Its a great world city but since its an old city, its transport system has not been able to catch up to the needs of its economy and its millions of citizens. There solution is controversial but quite effective. With Congestion charging which pioneers new transport management tools. This one move directly tackles reducing congestion, improving bus services, improving journey time reliability for car users and making the distribution of goods and services more reliable, sustainable and efficient all at one go. All charges collected are further ploughed into road infrastructure development. Other countries like Singapore, some cities in Sweden and the Netherlands have already followed London’s lead.

In the US, many states tackle heavy rush hour traffic by creating designated lanes that become High-Occupancy Vehicle or car-pooling only lanes during rush hour periods, while open to all vehicles at other times.

In Brazil’s capital city Sao Paulo, every vehicle has a day designated where they cannot travel the roads during rush hour. The day of the week for each vehicle is derived from the last digit and of course the traffic police and camera networks help!

Manila has a very similar system. Their Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program, is known as the Number Coding Scheme. In this city, vehicles are prohibited from plying all roads within the metropolis, depending on the last digit of their license plates and on the day of the week. Additionally vehicles are banned on the roads from 7 AM to 7 PM with a concession for private vehicles who enjoy a five-hour window from 10 AM to 3 PM. Public transportation has no such restriction.

A small country like Japan also suffers from major congestion. In their first phase of traffic control, their expressways that are operated by beneficiaries-pay principle, charge a hefty toll fee, to discourage driving and increase use of mass transport. India is not the only one with traffic problems and we can learn from the many nations around the world where small moves have lead to big results.

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My journey to “The Road To Change”

In 1997, I decided to travel to Europe with my family. As I was planning for the tour, I thought it would be great fun, if I drove around Europe myself, instead of traveling by public transport. At that time, I had driven Maruti, Ambassador and Fiat cars in India, and had very little experience of driving mid-size cars. Some of my friends advised I not drive in Europe. In fact, one of my friends told me that on the expressway in Germany, people drive at a speed of over 150kmph and if I don’t cope up with the speed, I might meet with an accident. However, I decided to take the risk and went ahead to experience driving in Europe myself.

We hired a car from Zurich for 15 days and on the very first day, we traveled almost 400 miles! We reached Salzburg in Austria, without any problem, although I was driving an Opal Astra for the first time. I never had to honk, as there was no need. I found people very disciplined, while driving. Not just that, pedestrians only used footpaths. People had the courtesy toward pedestrians and fellow drivers on the road. There were no irregular pedestrian crossings, as there were either over bridges or subways.

You may think it is difficult to drive in Europe, because all cars have a left-hand drive and unlike India, you have to drive on the right hand side of the road. But to my astonishment, everything on the road was so disciplined, that I never faced any problem. There was a huge difference between what we see in India and what I experienced in Europe.
I, then, thought that when I get back to India, I will take up an initiative to create awareness of disciplined driving for a safe India.

Later, I visited London and observed that rather than enforcement of rules and regulations, people were self-disciplined on the road. One of my friends drove me all over London. One day, he told me that he would take us to the River Thames at midnight. We reached the river bank at 2am. The road, next to the river bank, had 5 lanes and there was no traffic at all, at that time. He told me to take a stroll at the river bank and he would join us after parking the car, as there is no parking allowed on the road sides. A typical Indian, I told him, 典here is no traffic at all now. Why don’t you park the car near the footpath and join us?But he refused at first. However, on my insistence, he agreed and parked the car at the side of the road. Believe me, even before he could get out of the car, a policeman came and told him that he cannot park here. There was no discussion or argument or even a request to allow him to park, as it was not disturbing anyone and was only for half an hour. The rules are that strict. My friend had to, ultimately, park the car in a parking lot.

It was really a pleasant surprise, that the ordinary citizens and the law enforcement officials are so disciplined on the road.
My 15 days experience in Europe and London led me to initiate a road safety project in India. I feel it’s our responsibility to make a better society and not just curse the nation for what it does not have.

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How can we save those on the roads?

I have been discussing this with almost everybody. People like me, who face terrible traffic jams in the city. They are fed up and so am I. But I don’t want to give up on this problem. It is something we all need to solve.

I have thought about a few things, like going and meeting NGOs and private companies and asking them to come together and form groups, to tackle this problem.

Individuals, who want to help solve traffic-related problem, can join these special groups and sketch out different methods and ways to tackle the problem.

Actually traffic jams are just one small part of the current traffic situation. There are bigger problems related to it – road rage is one of the most crucial of those.

Traffic jams lead to road congestions, which tempt people to break traffic rules to escape the situation. This, in turn, makes people overtake from the wrong side, upsetting drivers, who do not break rules and follow road safety norms. This leads to frustration & anger and ends up as road rage, which can be dangerous, often causing accidents, and sometimes proving fatal.

So you see, there is loss to property, loss of mental health and sometimes life. Other problems like noise pollution, air pollution, wastage of petrol, parking problems, etc. are also there.

In the given situation, driving on the roads is almost a curse.

But, we can change this situation, if we make some efforts and take some steps in this direction.

Good traffic law enforcement is essential for road safety. People need to be taught discipline. They need to obey/follow traffic rules for road safety. Traffic policing is important for a safe and efficient movement of traffic. This can be achieved by persuasion, prevention and punishment. People need to be disciplined; the ones, who do not follow traffic rules, need to be penalized. Right laws put into practice will change behavior.

Speed limits will reduce accidents. Better movement of cars will ensure peaceful ways of driving.

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The Road to Change – On a mission to save lives!

Dr. Sheela Aggarwal is a gynecologist and she has an urgent patient that she needs to attend. She looks tensed and is constantly giving instructions to her subordinates over the phone. In between she is also asking her driver to move fast. But every time she gets the same answer “Madam traffic hai.” It took her almost 3 hours to cover a distance that could have been covered in an hour otherwise. Inspite of trying so hard, she could not make it on time.

Most of us have gone through a similar situation where we could not make it on time because of traffic and thus, have suffered. Traffic is the latest nightmare of Indian cities. The collapsing infrastructure and growing number of vehicles are causing deaths, loss of mental peace, health crisis & economic loss. Road traffic injuries are a neglected epidemic in India and as studies suggest, by 2020 road accidents will be the 3rd most important health hazard worldwide. AIDS being 10th and World War being 8th.


We are “The Road To Change,” a non-profit organization and we believe that the cause of this epidemic is lack of awareness and training. People in India are not properly trained or aware about the importance of being disciplined. Thus, it is our mission to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries and the consequent personal and financial losses by developing a public and private partnership to promote the best driving practices, enforcement of traffic regulations and ideal management of traffic infrastructure.

Understanding the importance of traffic management, we plan to interact with government authorities and private organizations to obtain their support and involvement. But we believe that it is not possible without creating awareness of traffic issues and the need for enforcement of driving regulations. The Road To Change also wishes to supplement/assist all regulatory authorities in activities of traffic discipline, control, technology, enforcement and response to various public issues. We are here to promote and encourage disciplined driving and pedestrian movements and work towards facilitating such efforts.

We believe that creating awareness is an important step toward building commuter’s understanding, influencing opinion and motivating behavior.

As Dan Bellack says “Life is too short for traffic” so, let’s not waste our lives on road.

Do you agree with this statement?

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