In a recent article, we looked at the severe shortage of traffic police personnel in Bengaluru, and how the administration is trying to bridge this gap. In this article, S T Ramesh, former DG&IGP of Karnataka, weighs in on the issue.
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There are three ‘E’ s that have to be followed to ensure good traffic management. They are Engineering, Enforcement and Education.
The police is hardly consulted in matters of road engineering though it affects smooth flow of traffic in a big way. The biggest challenge in traffic management in Bengaluru is the absence of parking spaces; because of this, vehicles are parked on the roads, causing traffic snarls. There is urgent need for providing several multi-level automated parking lots in the city so that more road space is released for unhindered vehicle movement.
There is no doubt enormous scope for employing technology for the purpose of education and enforcement. While one is well aware of the notoriety Bengaluru city traffic has earned across the world, it was here that technology was introduced for traffic management earlier than most other Indian cities.
The city police created a ‘traffic management centre’ (TMC) more than a decade ago with built-in capacity to monitor the movement of traffic in the city on its numerous screens, round the clock. With the TMC, police can zoom in, photograph and even challan offenders. The TMC can divert traffic, and warn road users about traffic jams as well.
In 2011, after visiting the TMC, the then-Union Home secretary G K Pillai had recommended this unique technology to all metros in the country including New Delhi.
Bengaluru traffic police was also perhaps the first in the country to provide hand-held instruments (HHIs) to constables for booking traffic offenders. Use of HHIs ensured cashless transactions apart from minimised processing time. Synchronising signals were also undertaken in several corridors.
The ‘adaptive traffic signals’ at more than 30 junctions use the green time efficiently, continuously monitoring vehicle queue length thereby reducing waiting time. There are plans to convert another 175 signals into adaptive ones, which will hugely ease traffic.
These are just a few examples. There is no doubt there is a larger scope for technology to improve traffic. Implementation of ‘smart transport system’ would ease traffic congestion considerably.
Having said that, technology is just one part of traffic management.
Human resource is very essential in order to man the innumerable traffic junctions. Physical presence of traffic policemen has a salutary effect on road discipline. This is true of even developed countries.
At least some of the 44,000 intersections in Bengaluru’s 13,000-km road network need to be physically manned. The existing manpower is woefully inadequate to tackle even a fraction of the intersections. Apart from filling up current vacancies, it is high time the norm prescribed by the Bureau of Police Research and Development is followed and the strength of traffic policemen augmented.
Installing mannequins at road intersections to tackle this huge challenge is novel, cost-effective and may provide temporary dividends. But people will soon get used to them and hence these will no longer act as a deterrent.