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Law & Order: A matter of road discipline

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RALLY FOR A CAUSE: Students of Loyola College taking out a bike rally as party of a road safety campaign on Wednesday. Photo: R. Ragu
RALLY FOR A CAUSE: Students of Loyola College taking out a bike rally as party of a road safety campaign on Wednesday. Photo: R. Ragu

With the skyrocketing growth in the number of vehicles, police are focussing on road discipline as the key to traffic management, says L. SRIKRISHNA

Director General of Police D Mukherjee the other day made the perceptive remark that traffic discipline was the index of a disciplined society.

If the words of the State's top policeman are to be taken seriously, the question arises where Chennai stands in the matter of traffic discipline. Compared with other metros like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, officials and frequent travellers say Chennai is still `motorable', unlike the other cities.

The vehicle population is, no doubt, growing at a rapid pace. But are Chennai's drivers disciplined enough to avoid chaos on the thoroughfares? Sample this. From a mere 25,350 vehicles in 1965, the number of vehicles in Chennai city grew to 23,71,977 in 2006. On an average, 400-500 vehicles are added to the city's vehicle population daily, which has a road spread of nearly 3,200 kilometres. The pattern is more or less the same in other metros.

The vehicle boom in Chennai in recent years has several causes: a growing population, swelling purchasing power, and easy term loans, among others. The police are faced with the tough task of handling such exponential growth.

Speaking to The Hindu , Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sunil Kumar said that though vehicular traffic was increasing, there was a pattern to this growth. According to him, there were 18.55 lakh two-wheelers in 2006 and the registered autorickshaws had gone up from 12000 in 1986 to over 50,000 in 2006. As for other categories, there were 3.85 lakh cars, 51,000 lorries, 25,000 buses and 10,000 jeeps.

The traffic police find it a monumental task to streamline the movement of two-wheelers and three-wheelers (autos) on the roads, which accounted for over 1.35 lakh violations in 2006. There is a need to reduce the number of two-wheelers in the city, which account for a major share of accidents. Under such circumstances, it would be prudent to look at alternative means to commute, which could help reduce the number of people using two-wheelers.

For this, public transport such as metro rail and buses could be of great help, Mr Kumar felt.

Youth campaign

On March 14 and 15, college students from Loyola (M.Sc. visual communication) conducted a campaign on road safety with the message "Speed-O-Matter" and "Go-40." Students from D.G. Vaishnav, Ethiraj, St. Thomas and WCC also took part. The main aim was to prevent speeding, the organisers said. The youth participation should certainly help bring about discipline among the motorists, which is sorely needed.

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