The time was 10.15 a.m. and the place Vytilla, unarguably one of the busiest junctions in the State. As the Traffic Police official manning the signals observed in a loud aside, a flyover is long overdue at this point.
Police personnel were scanning the drivers thoroughly on Monday morning. For a change, it was not for spotting offences, but to identify drivers who scrupulously observed the traffic rules. This was part of the ‘Green Signal to Safe Drive' – the traffic awareness programme taken up by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Cochin Shipyard Limited in association with The Hindu and the City Police.
When Aboobacker, sub-inspector, signalled car driver Krishnakumar of Kottayam to slow down and pull over, he was bewildered. He had not jumped the red light nor broken any other traffic rule. Why was he then stopped? Soon, however, the tension on his face eased and a smile flashed on his face when City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar and M.D. Varghese, DGM (Administration), Cochin Shipyard, presented him with a gift on being selected as the most law abiding driver. Vinod C. Mathew, PRO of BPCL and K.S. Baby Vinod, Assistant Commissioner, City Traffic (East), were present. Raghunathan, driving a truck from Tuticorin to Kodungalloor, said with a sigh of relief, “I was really worried when the policeman asked me to stop”. During the next 30 minutes at Vytilla, many more drivers shifted from tension to relief to smiles as police personnel spotted them out from the unending flow of traffic for their good driving habits.
The scene soon shifted to Kaloor Junction. Directing the heavy traffic there at midday could be a challenge in itself, as the police personnel have to bear the searing heat and control the flow. But T.K. Dineshan, sub-inspector, was all game to spot the best driver for the campaign, starting with Paul George, employed as a nurse at Willington Island.
The message, and gift, was a surprise for Bindu, an autorickshaw driver, who took some time to overcome her bewilderment. Bipin, who is employed in Oman, was thrilled to get recognition for his good driving habits.
Later in the day at Palarivattom signal junction along the NH bypass, the traffic was in full flow at 5.45 p.m. Some drivers, on their way back from a tiring day at office or class room, were in for a surprise. Like Sherin, a student at Cusat, who was presented with the award for responding promptly to the traffic signal, and Raju, driver of the KSRTC bus from Angamaly to Vytilla. Some drivers responded enthusiastically to the campaign. Premu S. Paul, who runs a pre-school at Maradu, was in a hurry when she was stopped by the police at Vytilla in the morning. After learning about the campaign, she readily agreed to pass on the message to her students and parents.
Time to flash the green signal to safe driving, indeed.