Perils on the roads

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Pot-hole ridden roads an inevitable aspect of modern thoroughfares

As has been suggested, is Goa really in the throes of a ‘widespread’ infestation of speed-breakers!

Yet, complaints of ‘ill designed’ speed-breakers, and needless ones for that matter, causing commuters in Goa needless inconvenience for the past so many years cannot just be brushed aside as matters that do not warrant a second thought by the government.

One is at pain to understand the idea behind conducting the traffic safety week essays if putting up banners at prominent places and a deputation of traffic cops to fine those indulging in traffic infringement is all that it takes for such commemorative weeks to be ‘huge’ successes.

Traffic management in layman’s language is that art of making our roads and highways a safer place to drive on.

And how well have the authorities entrusted with the task of monitoring vehicular movement and ensuring a check on unruly driving and speed-regulation managed this onerous task!

I dare say an arduous one because other than penalising erring motorists and two-wheeler riders for traffic infringements, there hasn’t been any overt response from them as regards imparting awareness about various nuances of safe driving to the commuting public.
Neither have the engineering defects which have made virtual death-traps of our roads ever featured in their order of priorities for immediate rectification.

Having come to accept the pot-hole ridden roads as an inevitable aspect of modern thoroughfares where patch-works are the only remedial recourses ‘tendered’ by the public works department, it comes as no wonder then that most of our roads and highways lie in a neglected State only to shine with a top of Bituminous tar when it suits the magnanimity of the ruling legislators, or opposition MLAs who are in good books with the ruling faction, who tom-tom these achievements as a part of their developmental plans envisaged for their respective constituencies.

Moreover, with most of the thoroughfares wearing the look of perennially excavated sites all-round the year one fails to understand the logic behind digging up freshly-laid roads to accommodate the exigencies of a work regimen which stipulates the ‘underground’ mode for almost all public utility services.

However, a lack of coordination between them while executing the works has usually had the roads thereafter bearing a bruised and scarred look rendering them unsafe for use by motorists.

But what really comes as a surprise is the scant respect shown by the state authorities for the Supreme Court directives which has called for the removal of all the speed-breakers from the highways which hinder the smooth movement of traffic and is also considered as a safety hazard.

Even the rumbler-strips installed at many places do not conform to specifications. As much as reckless driving is a potential threat on the roads, ill-designed thoroughfares increase the risk manifold.

Hence it is pertinent that the traffic authorities regularly conduct checks on the quality of the thoroughfares so that traversing on these roads will not be perilous to the commuters.

If anomalies are found, they should be intimating the concerned authorities to get the defects nullified. For, overlooking these errors may put the travelling public at risk.

It is nonetheless ridiculous to have our traffic personnel concentrating only on the traffic violations by commuters and living the abject condition of the roads to the department of public works.

More often than not it is the deplorable conditions of the motoring surface that brings out the verve in a driver to opt for alternative methods to escape the miseries of the back-breaking ride which however amounts to flouting of traffic norms from the perspective of an enforcing officer regulating traffic.

It thus becomes essential that certifying the worthiness of motorable roads and overseeing traffic regulations comes under the ambit of the traffic authorities who are in a better position to gauge what exactly is causing the commuting public to evade traffic rules.

That is not to say that there is any dearth of wilful offenders who love breaking traffic laws at the drop of a hat. It is this ‘gentry’ which needs to be disciplined, and in no uncertain terms at that.

Yet the manner in which the ‘Rosto Goa’ initiative has earned praise from Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for the Citizens Group in Goa for their inventiveness to paint speed-breakers in the State in white colour to increase their visibility exemplifies a job that ought to have been done by the government, but the lethargy on its part has compelled members of the public to take the onus on themselves.

It is however an obvious fact that the modern day drivers are a class apart by themselves in that they have scant respect for the rules of the road.

Preferring the luxury of unhindered motoring along the thoroughfares, any resistance to their undisciplined ways on the roads is met with hostile reactions. Permanently keeping their vehicles on the right side of the road, they make it extremely difficult for others to overtake them.

Approaching traffic bottlenecks, the manner in which a single file of vehicles suddenly ‘transforms’ into two or three lanes competing to clear the ‘hurdle’ is a novelty much relished by the new age drivers.

And in this melee it is the ear-drums that come in for the worst punishment.

The Tympanic membrane is stretched to the limits putting up with the incessant honking that has come to characterize the impatience of the drivers irritated by the crawling traffic.

But then, blaring horns even during normal vehicular movement, drivers have given an example of their insensitiveness to their surroundings. Hospitals and schools vicinities which are strictly ‘No-Horn’ zones in fact invite the maximum honking.

Hence the unique initiative of the Mumbai Police to discipline perpetual honkers who love to blare the horns of their vehicles even when the traffic signal is red should come in for much appreciation.

Introducing the ‘Punishing Signal’ to curb noise pollution, decibel monitors have been connected to traffic signals around the city, and when the cacophony exceeds the dangerous 85-decibel mark due to needless honking, the signal timer resets, entailing a double waiting time for all vehicles.

The ‘honk more, wait more’ message flashed at such noisy signals should hopefully deter those who seemingly derive a thrill out of unnecessarily blasting away on their horns.

Generally speaking, the honking menace is not only restricted to Mumbai. Practically every city across the country, without exception, is tormented by this public nuisance.

Needless honking is not only a bad habit, but also an act of traffic indiscipline besides being a major health and pollution hazard.

But as with other traffic-related matters, honking is not an issue that entails creating awareness among the commuting public. Everyone recognizes the perils associated with it but do little to curb the instinct to go with the ‘craze’.

Wouldn’t we all love a honk-less, noise-free and stress-free travel, equally complimented by well-designed roads bereft of needless speed-breakers impeding the traffic!

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