Unsmart Traffic Of A Smart City!
By Partha Prawal
With a bid to transform Guwahati into a smart city, the Guwahati Smart City Limited (GSCL) since 2015 up to 2018 has spent Rs 16 crore and carried out different necessary projects.
The GSCL has so far spent only on setting up smart bio-toilets and water ATMs, office maintenance, preparation of detailed project reports and other related projects.
Once the projects are implemented properly, Guwahati in the near future would certainly go through a massive makeover and we would become the ‘smart citizens’ of a smart city.
A proud moment, indeed!
The question, however, is will Guwahati’s traffic sense change once the city turns to a smart city?
Traffic condition in Guwahati is ‘pathetic’ to say the least and the prime reason for it is atrocious traffic sense of the Guwahatians!
Smart traffic speaks volumes about the smartness of a city!
Zebra Crossings (?)
Zebra Crossings are not just some black & white stripes of colors on the road. They are there for a purpose. But sadly, 99 per cent of motorists of Guwahati are either ignorant of the purpose or they don’t know about the purpose at all or they tend to ignore its purpose at will.
“At every red signal, we have zebra crossings so that the pedestrians can cross the road easily and the motorists should stand their vehicles away from the crossing, but this rarely happens. All are in such a hurry that when the light turns red they stand their cars right on the zebra crossings and that too in a haphazard manner, making it difficult for a pedestrian to cross the road,” says Sourav Khound, a random commuter.
“If we follow the rule book, then we will see that there is a fine for making a vehicle stand in a wrong manner at red signals but here, who cares? I think even the traffic personnel are unaware of these rules,” Khound further adds on.
When some traffic police personnel were asked as why they don’t impose fine on the motorists for breaking some basic rules like standing the vehicles way beyond the zebra crossings (at red signals), most of them said that they are not exactly aware if fines could be imposed if a commuter stands his vehicle at or beyond the zebra crossings.
Some traffic men further said that even though they are aware of the rules, however, they do not have the proper instructions from higher authorities to impose the fines.
“The citizens are unaware of this basic traffic rule and even if fines are imposed, it is almost certain that the citizens would create nuisances. They need to be aware before the traffic department starts imposing fines and I strongly believe that commuters need to be fined for standing their vehicles on or beyond zebra crossings,” Khound further said.
This is a golden rule that the motorists need to follow. When at a traffic signal, the red light signals us to stop, orange (yellow) tells us to monitor the traffic properly before moving and green light suggests us that we can go. But this golden rule is seldom followed!
As a person myself who rides a two-wheeler, I have seen people rush even when the red light is on.
During morning hours (before 8 am) and after 10 pm, no one bothers the traffic signals. Even if one follows the traffic lights during these hours, he is often called crazy and is hurled with verbal abuses of various kinds.
Sometimes I wonder if the streets of Guwahati are breeding grounds for future Formula1 racers.
The new drivers, who get hold of the wheels, drive in such a manner as if they are in competition with some Michael Schumacher or Narain Karthikeyan. And during the nights, especially after 11 pm when the traffic is quite thin, the cars move at an abnormally high speed making life difficult for cyclists and motorcyclists.
“These drivers feel that the roads belong to them and any slow moving vehicle is always in a spot of danger,” said Bedanta Baruah, a journalist with a local news channel who leaves office after 12 am on most occasions.
As we drive, we honk and honking is essential as it alerts the one at the front.
But here in Guwahati, people honk at will and they honk even at the red signals or even when there is heavy traffic. The continuous sound of a horn is not just irritating but it also speaks a lot about the mindset of a driver.
Fine for Parking
Very often we come across a banner that reads- Fine for Parking. But I feel most of the Guwahatians get it wrong as they think the ‘fine’ here means perfect and not a penalty.
Once I remember how a man argued with the traffic policeman as he was slapped a fine for parking his car in a no parking zone.
The offender felt that the signage meant it was okay to park the car at the place.
It took some laborious minutes and work to make him understand the meaning of the signage.
Overtaking in Guwahati is a risky affair as most of the commuters prefer to overtake from the left side, which is actually the wrong side.
This happens mainly due to two reasons- firstly when the vehicle at the front doesn’t give side and secondly when the vehicle at back decides to avoid the right side.
A vehicle at the back may ask for a pass from the vehicle at the front, but it is not mandatory for the vehicle at the front to allow a pass if it can’t have enough room for itself to drive safely and properly. Getting a pass is actually a luxury and not a birthright. But sadly, most of the commuters feel that getting a pass is their right.
One must also remember that when asking for a pass or over-taking a vehicle at the front, it should be done from the right side and not left.
Most of the motorists in Guwahati think that there exists only upper in the lights of a vehicle and the dipper is virtually non-existent.
When a vehicle approaching from the front has its upper on, then the driver coming from the opposite direction finds it difficult to see the road.
Moreover, when a vehicle is behind another, it should follow with the dipper on. Keeping the upper on makes it difficult for the driver at the front for the light from behind reflects on the rear-view of his (front driver) vehicle. This makes driving quite difficult.
In Guwahati, a major percentage of drivers rarely use dipper during the night and they have their own justifications for not using it.
Not just improper use of uppers & dippers, drivers in Guwahati also don’t use the left-right indicators properly when taking a turn.
In most cases, it is witnessed that the vehicle at the front abruptly takes a turn putting the vehicle at behind in a spot of bother.
“Vehicles taking abrupt turns are one of the prime reasons for accidents in Guwahati. A vehicle must indicate from around 90-100 metres before taking a turn so that the vehicles at the back are alerted. But we hardly see this happening,” said Sneha Kashyap who met with an accident last year after the vehicle at front of hers turned abruptly without proper indication.
Guwahati’s traffic sense should certainly get better if the city needs to be recognized as a ‘smart city’, else what we will have only a cosmetic change and a luxurious tag.