Delhi’s roads are probably the most notorious in the country. Traffic rules are violated liberally by motorists, and the blue line buses in the city are ambassadors of indiscipline on the road. Pedestrians are often injured, sometimes fatally in road accidents. In an attempt to make roads safer, towards the end of 2007, the Delhi Traffic Police enforced new rules against the capital’s jaywalkers or pedestrians who violate traffic rules. This is a revolutionary step that moves beyond fining only motorists for violating rules. The rule has been made under Section 28 of the Delhi Police Act that empowers the police to make new rules to ensure better governance of traffic.
To many the whole idea of being fined for ‘just’ walking across a (busy) road seems bizarre! This, however, is an important and a long over due step to make the capital’s roads safe, considering that most jaywalkers are as responsible for road accidents as motorists are. The numerous subways and footbridges remain unused and the money which the government spends in building them goes waste. The decision to fine jaywalkers was followed by an awareness campaign by the traffic police. The awareness campaign simply reiterated what one was taught regarding traffic rules in the early years of schooling!
The rule was implemented robustly to begin with, with many violators being fined on day one. The drive has been successful in few parts of the capital, mainly Central Delhi, which is the hotbed of VIP movement in the city. Curiously, in parts of the city which do not have infrastructure catering to the needs of pedestrians, there is no police presence to control the traffic and ensure that pedestrians cross the roads safely. Moreover, the mere presence of infrastructure does not serve the purpose. It should be user friendly and convenient. Pedestrians will resort to jaywalking if they find the infrastructure is more of a pain than a gain. Crossing the road from the point where they are standing is much easier than walking a few hundred metres to use the ‘nearest’ subway, footbridge or zebra crossing. Clearly, the traffic police built castles in the air. In fact in parts where there is no infrastructure or infrastructure that is not user friendly policemen are seen jaywalking themselves! Another ridiculous aspect of the rule is that the fine is all of 20 rupees and 100 rupees if caught again! The amount is ridiculously small and defeats the purpose of a fine.
It is a novel step taken by the traffic police for road safety but it should be implemented properly and effectively. The rule should teach the citizens to be responsible and leave a lasting impression on them. Infrastructure must be built as it is an integral part of the success of this rule. The proper implementation of this rule would make the capital a paradigm of traffic safety in the country, and hence save thousands of lives that are killed in road accidents every year.
[image courtesy: http://flickr.com/photos/32779893@N00/87179724/sizes/m/]