Wednesday, April 8

Another traffic management effort

Pune will soon get an Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) that could help bring order to its traffic problems. The projects looks promising and might work too. But unless a good 'traffic culture' can be created in the city I fail to see any hope for any traffic management plans. Of course 24 monitoring could turn out to be the starting point, the fear of punishment method...but aren't the original traffic rules based on the same idea? No one fears punishment for traffic violation, not even embarrassment. They all end up being anecdotes, and learning tools for new drivers passed on from one generation to the next. Driving license is a privilege which we take to be a right. And maybe because other basic rights are violated on a daily basis by governments and leaders, we consider it our duty to violate and abuse this "right" ourselves.

In a related story, the city's Police Commissioner has lashed out at the RTO's license issuing process. And I agree with him. My driving test was just another typical day at the Pune RTO... scared 'kakus' driving with one foot hanging down and my 17 year self scared as hell, scores of 'agents' hovering over the policewala, a dump of a parking lot with tea stalls and ogling creatures...And then my driving test in the US which I partially passed, sweating from nervousness sitting next to a fierce looking policewali who almost killed me with her smirk as I messed up my parallel parking. Of the ten people who came out before me only a couple were smiling and got their licenses. There were no agents, only friends or family members.

While the traffic situations in terms of vehicles, speeds, infrastructure etc. are different for both countries, there is a basic driving etiquette in this country that never fails to impress me. And it saddens me that the same people who drive like nobody's business back home, follow rules and become polite here. This means that these people are capable of decency and traffic discipline in principle. So why not do it back home? I guess it is just a matter of 'when in Pune do as the Puneris do.'

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