[Reader-list] Self Imposed Traffic Discipline

Murali V murali.chalam at gmail.com
Fri Sep 4 11:35:10 IST 2009

I am sure many of us have experienced bitter and tensed traffic
maneuvers almost on an hourly basis. The unruly traffic, the
ill-disciplined vehicle drivers, the careless cops monitoring the
roads, the traffic signals that never work added to the ever so free
cattle roaming on the roads have all added to the long winding
vehicular snarls.

Have anyone wondered that these could be very well be avoided as most
are within our control, which could be very well exercised very
prudently and judiciously.

During one of my visits to the US, I had a chance encounter of the
rarest of rare instances of the traffic lights failing in a four way
crossing junction in Austin Texas, during one of those peak hours. To
top it all there was not a single cop and yet the traffic flow was
very smooth. How it worked may not be easy to put in words, but yet I
have tried to put it in a way that I hope people would understand and
implement. As the signal stopped, all vehicles stopped at their
respective junction points. One vehicle from each direction started
moving in a cyclic manner taking turns. This ensured that every one
had their turns and the flow resumed in a smooth manner.

Now coming to our traffic behavior, what do we do, all vehicles in one
direction at the first available opportunity move, blocking all other
vehicular movement, blocking and chocking the junction leading to
traffic coming to almost a stand still. People fail to realise that in
their urgency to move forward quickly are only creating more delays.

Take another instance. We do have lanes and by-lanes across the road
anywhere in the world. A discipline that is followed in the US is
that, whenever there is a queue of vehicles, a clear gap is left for
vehicles coming from the opposite direction to turn into the lane,
there by preventing a blockage of vehicles in the opposite direction
as well because the vehicle cutting across has a clear passage to turn

What do we do, we provide no such gaps and the traffic in the opposite
direction also stops as the vehicle which wants to turn into the lane
is waiting for gap to be freed, which is never given resulting in
stoppage of vehicles in that direction, more so because most of our
roads are narrow.

Iam sure these are a few lessons that we can learn and implement,
easing traffic tension to some extent.

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