(In the following write-up you will come across school children embarrassing the Traffic SI lecturing them. It is pure fiction that places facts in a manner intended to be a Wake-Up call to traffic cops)
The month-long traffic drive is on but with no relief to road users.
Traffic management seems to have gone off the rails. And if Rotarians think that their gala bid to bring police officials to give tips to school kiddies will have a lasting impact, they are living in a world of delusion. One huge Roadways bus, moving at a snail’s pace, causes traffic jam whether on Leader Road or on Khusraubagh overbridge or anywhere else where the roads are narrow and these giants on wheels act as China Wall causing a traffic jam that could easily be averted. No school boy is involved in this. But obviously this aspect of the matter does not bother the traffic cops , some of whom might be preparing themselves to smartly address school children in their class rooms with their pretty teachers according them a sweet welcome. But are such lectures beneficial ? Are they having any impact? The other day I was stunned to see passing through over-crowded Civil Lines a young school boy in half pant riding his scooter with his tiny sister sitting on the pillion. Where is the Traffic SI? I thought to myself. Is this the impact of the lectures he keeps on giving to school children ? Thanks to insanitary conditions or after a mild shower, roads become very slippery and particularly dangerous where cow dung or animal droppings make the surface very slippery or where mobile-oil leakage from cars being repaired on roadsides prepares the ground to spin a passing vehicle. Any two-wheeler could skid there.
Giving lectures to school children on traffic rules is regarded by many as sheer waste of time. These lectures are an insult to the schools because they show that the leading educational institutions, which are imparting the best of education, cannot teach road discipline to their kiddies. But I may tell the Traffic SI that school children will outsmart him if they start cross-questioning him. He should realize that there are external factors which contribute more to road accidents than anything else. Assuming that a child has fully absorbed all the tips that Traffic SI gives to his class , how will those rules help a boy when he suddenly encounters an encroachment which should not be there ? How will the boy riding a cycle find his way through a road that is all of a sudden occupied by a car that stands right in his way to get repaired by the mechanic of a roadside shop?
When the SI visits students next to teach them about traffic rules he might face a barrage of embarrassing questions. Let us assume that the Traffic SI is giving lectures to smart boys of SJC, BHS, BJS, GHS, SMC and so on. They could cross question the SI. I am assuming that the Traffic SI is in a class-room of an English medium school, lecturing to the boys. Here is this imaginary encounter.
1.’Children, you have to be prepared to face encroachments’. If a child asks: ‘But aren’t encroachments forbidden ? Why don’t you challenge them?’. Traffic SI may tell them: ‘Don’t interfere when I am speaking.’
2. The cop may next tell them: ‘Children, you must be prepared to encounter roadblocks by motor mechanics, specially near the Wheelers crossing, where roadside repair shops halt the vehicles in the middle of the thoroughfare and block all passage.’ Children may ask, ‘But why don’t you remove those roadblocks? Have those mechanics given your men suvidha shulk ? Or are you afraid to remove the vehicles from there with cranes because those cars could be belonging to your senior officers whose drivers pose as if they were the officers themselves?’ As usual, the Traffic SI will tell them, ‘Don’t interfere when I am speaking’
3. He may then tell the boys: ‘When you are going in groups don’t be pushed around like dumb-driven cattle by your rowdy batch-mates but watch every step’. The child may ask: ‘Sir, but what about the real, dumb-driven stray cattle that obstructs our passage? You had promised to remove all cattle dairies from the city to cattle-nagars on the outskirts. Why have you not done that?’ As usual, the SI will tell them, ‘Don’t interfere when I am speaking’.
4. The cop may next tell them: ‘And boys, if you are sitting on the pillion with your elders on a scooter, please tell them to timely switch on their lights and not delay doing so after dusk in order to save batteries’. A child might hit back by asking: ‘Sir, what about the glaring lights from oncoming cars which fall into our eyes and blind us, often preventing us to cross the road safely on foot ? Why don’t you have these car headlights painted half black as required under the Motor Vehicles Act and prevent accidents that take place when the glare from headlights disrupts the vision of road users coming from the opposite direction?’ The SI may again say, ‘Don’t interfere when I am speaking’.
5. A child may ask: ’Sir, you are talking so much about lights but have you also visualized what happens when street lights suddenly go off and visibility becomes zero? How will a pedestrian see his way through if he stumbles on a pit covered with water and finds himself waist-deep in a pothole. At that very moment a speeding truck may pass over him? Have you spoken to the Nagar Nigam about road lights and also to repair pits on roads? What is the use of your tall lectures on traffic rules if you do not press for the removal of external threats and dangers?’ The cop may again say, ‘Don’t interfere when I am speaking. And mind your own business’.
I think that this will be the best time for some sharp student to tell him: ‘Sir, you mind your business first and do not interfere in our class lectures. Our teachers are competent enough to tell us everything about traffic rules. They will do it better. You please go and remove the encroachments, stop the glaring headlights, ask road mechanics opposite Wheelers to leave the entire width of the road and also footpaths free from their workshop and tell Nagar Nigam to ensure street lights are on, all road potholes are repaired, there is no water-logging and also remove bulls and cows, buffaloes and monkeys from our roads. Tell us, Police Uncle, will you be able to sustain your balance on a scooter if you see a menacing monkey or a charging bull aiming at you from the opposite direction? No. You can control us, not them. Why don’t you take a lecture class of monkeys, cows, bulls, encroaching motor mechanics and the like before coming to us again to tell us those useless theoretical traffic tips about which we already know more than you?’
Another kid may say, ’Sir, what about stopping your own cops from sitting three on a scooter or bike and riding the vehicle without wearing a helmet?’
Moral for traffic cops: Remove traffic hurdles and stop lectures. Work more, talk less and mind your business.