Jumping signals is becoming a menace on the city’s roads; is there a way to stop it, asks
L. Srikrishna

Signal violations are so common on the city’s roads that nobody takes it seriously any more. Jumping signals is a sort of sport for motorists in Chennai: Drivers of Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses, autorickshaws, cars, two-wheelers all think nothing of speeding past even when the signal has changed to red.

The city’s vehicle population is mushrooming; it has around 18 lakh two-wheelers and even if a fraction of them broke road rules, it could result in accidents, sometimes even fatal ones, traffic police officers say.

A road safety activist recalls how the rash driving of a MTC driver claimed the life of a youth near Koyambedu a week ago. The speeding bus also rammed into cars and other vehicles waiting at a signal. The police arrested the driver and registered a case for rash and negligent driving, but the dead can’t be brought back to life, he points out.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sunil Kumar says self-discipline by road users will bring down such tragedies to a great extent. “As law enforcers, we take action against erring drivers, but the sense of discipline has to come from within,” he says.

Motorists ignore the stop line deliberately, and in full knowledge that they are in violation of the law. The fine for such offences has to be increased for it to become an effective deterrent, he says.

The excuse that ‘I’m in a hurry,’ is no excuse at all; as a speaker at a recent traffic awareness meeting pointed out, “If we plan the day a little early, it will help us avoid rash and rush driving”.

It’s all very well asking for self-discipline, but is there a foolproof method to stop such violations. Engineering student A.K. Praveen Kumar of Madras Institute of Technology, Anna University, thinks he has one. His “futuristic control system for traffic signal violations,” is aimed at ensuring drivers obey traffic signals. It works like this: a radio frequency (RF) transmitter placed on the roads just after the stop line, generates RF waves for a measured length from the stop line. Every vehicle will be fitted with a RF receiver. When a vehicle crosses the control zone when the signal is showing red, the receiver will register the RF waves generated by the transmitters, which in turn will trigger an alarm fitted in the vehicle.

Anti-alarm gun

To deactivate the alarm, the driver has to go to the nearest police control room where police will use an anti-alarm gun to stop the alarm, and in the process slap a fine, he explains.

This will reduce the number of accidents occurring at junctions, discipline traffic flow and avoid the physical presence of traffic police on the roads, he says.

Tests of the system have shown encouraging results, K Vijayan of the Department of Automobile Engineering, MIT, says.