Moving All Posts to

7 07 2010

This blog would be deleted soon. I am moving all posts to

Reason: I am finding it difficult to maintain multiple blogs.

[Solutions] Part 1: Better preventive checks and mechanisms

11 10 2007

Ok. So as mentioned in my previous posts, lets stop discussing problems and start discussing solutions. My first step would be to embrace technology. Today, most of our traffic chaos are because of the following reasons –

  1. The public can get away with a crime.
  2. In the event of an accident, We have no logical way to find out who is the victim and who is culprit.
  3. Too much corruption on the roads.
  4. The current crime prevention mechanism (FINES) has proven to be way too ineffective.
  5. Too many vehicles and too few police men on the roads.

These are just a few pointers. If we really look into it there would be a lot more. But, most of them would call for one solution – Find and implement an effective mechanism to stop crime on the road by imposing stricter and harsher punishments. But how do we catch them? That’s where TECHNOLOGY comes into action.

Database of all licenses and vehicles

Now, this is the easiest of the lot. I guess the RTO would already have a database already. If not in digital format, at least in paper files. The first step would be to consolidate this into a single database. Now that we have all license numbers on the database, we can keep track of crimes committed by drivers.

Step up fines and make it difficult

Step up the fines. Most of the penalty fine rates prevailing today seem so cheap that anybody can afford them. Hike them. Also, do not let police officers to collect the fines. The police officers who stop the vehicle should sieze the driver’s license and then ask him to pay the fine at any nationalized bank and then go to the traffic police station and present the chellan to get back his driving license. Sounds improbable? It works perfectly fine in Kolkata. Why wouldn’t it work in rest of India?

Ticketing on Licenses

Don’t stop at fines. Introduce Ticketing mechanism. Along with the fine, the driver would be issued a ticket. If a driver gets more than 6 tickets in a year, then he will have to take a retest to get his license back. If he he gets more than 6 years per year for more than 2 years, then his license will be canceled.

Cameras on signals

Now, this could be a costly proposal. We need cameras on all signals to record redlight jumpers. We could have a cheaper alternative to this. We will discuss that in another post later in this series.

Unless we catch criminals red-handed wouldn’t be able to establish their crime. Also, unless we have a system in place, we cannot really bring about any change. If the public has to drive properly, they are not going to do it with choice. They will do it only if they are afraid of the punishment. Today, every driver on the road knows that even if he jumps the signal. There is always the chance of him getting away with it. One driver can commit any number of crimes and still be let free on the streets to commit more crimes.

Technology would help us categorise and keep track of city traffic crimes and help us solve most of the problems we have today as humans are performing the task. Humans mean emotions, corruption, laziness, lack of accountability etc.

Note: Pls dont be in a hurry to judge the solutions from just this post. Feel free to comment. But, It would make more sense once I complete the entire series. 


Riding Bikes with Kids

25 09 2007

We were eagerly seeing some of the shots taken by one of our friends over the weekend and this one caught our attention…


This unintentional shot triggered a discussion on Kid’s safety. Who is responsible for the safety of kids in the vehicles?

In this case, it seems that the rider had transferred the responsibility to the Kid.  Wonder what is he carrying in the sack. It seems to be so precious that he is holding it so close.

Who is held responsible when kids gets hurt in accidents?  Do we consider negligence angle as done in several countries. Do we have clear rules or guidelines on Kid’s safety in these situations ?

Thanks to Ram Prakash for sharing this picture and giving consent for publishing this in Chennai Traffic blog.

Town ditches traffic lights to cut accidents

20 09 2007

Ok. Now, this different…. hmmm…. While, here we are talking about how we can impose traffic lights into the driving traffic, these folks are thinking about removing them… Really interesting…

By Catherine Bosley

BERLIN (Reuters) – A town council in Germany has decided the best way of improving road safety is to remove all traffic lights and stop signs downtown.

From September 12, all traffic controls will disappear from the center of the western town of Bohmte to try to reduce accidents and make life easier for pedestrians. In an area used by 13,500 cars every day, drivers and pedestrians will enjoy equal right of way, Klaus Goedejohann, the town’s mayor, told Reuters. “Traffic will no longer be dominant,” he said.

The idea of removing signs to improve road safety, called “Shared Space,” was developed by Dutch traffic specialist Hans Monderman, and is supported by the European Union. The EU will cover half of the 1.2 million euros ($1.66 million) it will cost Bohmte to ditch its traffic lights.

Monderman’s ideas have already been implemented in the town of Drachten in the north of the Netherlands, where all stop lights, traffic signs, pavements, and street markings have gone. “It’s been very successful there,” Goedejohann said, adding that accidents in Drachten had been reduced significantly.

Officials in Fuerstenberg/Havel, a small town north of Berlin, are also considering adopting the “Shared Space” scheme. But not everyone is confident it will work. “Just because it worked in the Netherlands doesn’t mean it will work here,” said Werner Koeppe, a road specialist at Berlin’s Technical Traffic Institute.

[Source : Reuters]

How do we solve the Traffic Problem?

10 09 2007

Following my last post couple of weeks ago, I am beginning to post a series of proposed solutions for our traffic problems. First of lets start with the most basic question – Is there a traffic problem in Chennai? Answer: Yes. No arguments.

Now, lets move on. What can we do about this? A wide range of ideas have been floating around the Internet – starting from educating drivers to burning bad drivers on a stake. Lets take a realistic approach. What’s stopping us from implementing a good road traffic system here in Chennai?

  • Bad infrastructure
  • Corrupt law enforcers
  • Too much political intervention in the judicial system
  • Ignorance of traffic rules by public
  • Utter disregard to traffic rules by public
  • HUGE Population!
  • No accountability at any level in the traffic department
  • Lack of belief on people’s part that things could possibly be better

Ok. Now we have a list of problems. What can we do about it? It’s not going to be an easy task. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take interference and commitment from the educated lot in the population. But, it’s going to be possible. Let’s, start from the basics. Let’s go back to the rudiments of the Indian Traffic system. Let’s revisit the city planning model. Let’s see what can be done without impossible goals stopping us from making the place a better place to live in. First and foremost, I am not interested in trying to solve the traffic problems by infrastructure solutions alone.

Let’s see why would want to make things better in the first place. What’s wrong with this chaos? What real change are we trying to bring about here.

  • Make driving SAFE
  • Make driving less-stressful and pleasurable
  • Make the traffic faster
  • Increase pedestrian safety
  • Making it easy to deliver justice in the event of accidents
  • Accommodating the ever increase need for space for more and more vehicles on the road
  • Most importantly – To ensure that the drivers and passengers on the road are still alive at the end of the journey
  • Setting an example to the coming generations.

The next series of posts from me are going to explore each change we can bring about to make traffic better. I request readers to join in and comment freely on the proposed solutions. 😉

Repeating Accidents in Ashok Nagar 11th Ave.

5 09 2007

If accidents repeats in the same area, we term it as an accident prone area. It is time the traffic authorities declare the turning from Ashok Pillar to 11th Ave. as an accident prone area.

You might have read our previous post on a scuffle between the MTC bus drivers at 11th Ave. See these pictures. The same scene was repeated on Saturday (01st September 2007), but this time it was a car vs. MTC bus.


We reached the spot minutes after the accident took place, so we are not in a position to explain on how it happened. We just want to highlight some basic issues here.  The bus was stopped almost at the center of the road as evident in the next two photographs. The same was the case in the previous incident.


This bus stop is just after a turn and a signal. Authorities should think of moving it further down the road or take steps to make the vehicles stop properly.

Begging at Traffic Signals

5 09 2007

Stopping vehicles at the Traffic Signals in Ashok Nagar is becoming a nightmare to the drivers.  Just as you stop the vehicle at the red signal, few people gets onto the road and approach the vehicles – ladies with kids, kids, beggars… the list goes on. 


The photo was taken at the signal near Udayam Theatre. You can see a three member team in the rear view mirror. One person is blind and the other two are accompanying him carrying a collection box. Even though there is a police outpost at this signal, these people carry on with their business. One of them claimed that police has allowed them collect money at this signal.

This practice common in Mumbai and new to Chennai can cause unnecessary traffic jam and accidents.

Innovative idea to stop drunken driving

17 08 2007

Watch this video on IBNLIVE. A simple innovative idea to stop drunken driving.–behold-a-urinal-talks-on-dangers-of-drinking.html

Hope some one would try this in our cities…

Traffic Park in Chennai

13 08 2007

Road Safety and Traffic Education – Part II

This place gives a hope that at least the next generation would make our roads safer. These are pictures from the Traffic Park in the Tamilnadu Science & Technology Center, Chennai.

<< Neatly laid roads and the clear pedestrian crossing with the correct signals are a must for any good traffic system.
<< The sign boards provides details on the various traffic signs. The petrol bunk gives the park a real life look.


<< With these clear markings, kids would learn the lane rules much faster.
<< From the pavilion… You can sit and watch the traffic in the park.
<< The photographs of men in uniform giving directions would help the kids learn the traffic signs and how to follow them.
<< Kudos to this person.
Even though, he could not get any toy vehicle, he decided to take these kids for a walk through the roads. He was explaining to the kids on how to follow the signs and rules while driving.

Areas of improvement:

  • The park lacks real vehicles. Some traffic parks provide toy vehicles for kids. Real traffic situation is created and kids are taught on how to handle those situations. Not sure whether this facility is temporarily unavailable or they have decided to close this facility altogether.
  • More involvement from the public (students and parents). Even though it was a Sunday, there were only very few parents in this area of the park.
  • Support from the NGOs to maintain and promote this initiative.

Best part:

  • Entrance fee to the entire park area is Rs. 2, making it affordable to the common man.

Location: Tamilnadu Science & Technology Center, Gandhi Mandapam Road, Chennai- 600 025

Road Safety and Traffic Education

6 08 2007

There was an interesting news that caught my attention. The news  by Meera Srinivasan
 “A school of thought on road safety emerges” published in The Hindu. It talks about a workshop for teachers on the traffic safety:

At a workshop organised by the NGO (Suraksha Road Safety Society) in partnership with DaimlerChrysler India Private Limited and the Society  of Indian Automobile Manufacturers here on Tuesday, teachers from city schools were trained in aspects of road safety. They would go back and train their students in these areas.

Representatives from six schools in and around the city — Ellen Sharma Memorial School, P. S. Senior Secondary School, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (T. P. Road), Children’s Garden School, Sivaswami Kalalaya and Chellammal Matriculation — participated. Founder of the NGO Usha Seshasayee said the awareness campaign, targeted at about 1,000 students, was likely to benefit nearly 10,000 students owing to an overwhelming response from schools.

The workshop organisers would also hold a series of contests on road safety for Class IV children to “catch them young” and spread awareness. “A regulatory authority that monitors the issue and connects the exercises taken up by NGOs and the authorities will help,” she says.

Read the fully story in THE HINDU  (

Kudos to the organizers of the workshop. We were not part of the workshop and we do not know what was taught as part of the workshop. But when we consider the traffic education for Kids in Chennai, there is a basic issue:  ” What traffic education are we going to impart to the kids?

Let us take few basic things:

  • While you are on road, walk only on the footpath. Where do we have proper footpath. The kids are forced to walk on the road.
  • Use pedestrian cross (Zebra crossing) to cross the road. We do not have proper pedestrian crossing on most of the roads.
  • We do not have enough sign boards. To warn the drivers.
  • Drivers forget the courtesy factor while driving; even while kids are crossing the road.
  • No signals for the pedestrian crossing.

Along with the workshops, we need to take some creative steps to make the roads safer for kids:

  1. Identify school zones.
  2. Implement clear and wide pedestrian crossing and stop lines in these school zones.
  3. Put up the following sign boards in the school zones: School Zone, Speed Limit, No Overtaking in school zone, Yellow Lines, No Horn.
  4. Penalty for not following traffic rules in school zone should be at least triple the penalty levied in other zones.
  5. Mark Parking area/ No parking area in the school zone.
  6. Local Traffic authorities meet Parents and Teachers once in a month to hear the issues. The meeting can be clubbed with the Open House or any such event. I am sure the parents would be willing to help the authorities to implement any of the road safety measures in the school zones.
  7. Create traffic parks in the outskirts of city where the kids get a chance to drive the toy vehicles and learn the traffic rules.

If we do not have these things in place, then… instead of traffic education, it is better to enrol kids and parents to some Obstacle Training courses.

During the third week of June I had to wait near Jawahar Vidyalaya (Ashok Nagar) for almost 2 hours. Since there was nothing else to do, I decided to watch the traffic. It was pathetic. The following photograph summarizes the scene:

This photograph was taken from the footpath in front of the school using a mobile camera. See how the vehicles join another road through the wrong side of the road. See the other two specific issues marked in red. When the traffic police is present, they do their best to control the traffic. But unless the drivers decide to follow the traffic rules… chaos rules.

Watch this video  on Make Road Safe campaign of United Nations

…and read the book let A child dies every 3 minutes.