“Red means stop” is a childhood lesson that we have all Indians learnt. This gets reinforced time and again as we grow up. This happens because of experiences that we undergo. So when you are waiting at a railway station and you see a red signal, you get assured that the train won’t move.
A train jumping a red signal is a crime and this happens rarely. When you swipe a card in the office and if the indicator remains red, you get to know that you cannot move ahead. There are many such examples which reinforce that red signal requires that an individual should stop.
But unfortunately reinforcement of experiences has not created that discipline in our country and has failed to become a part of risk culture in India. This gets abundantly manifested when we drive on the road. Just wait at a traffic signal and watch how a majority of the people respond when signal is red.
When traffic police is not around and it is an odd hour, say an early morning or late evening, people tend to ignore the red signal and move ahead conveniently. After all why should one wait? There is hardly anyone on the road and moving ahead makes sense and fear of penalty is ruled out. Convenience takes over the respect for law. After all, we are all practical in our approach.
Another scenario arises during morning and evening peak hours. At this time, almost everybody is in hurry and mostly for no reason at all, so signal jumping is something which people tend to attempt in spite of fear of being caught, as traffic police presence is highest during this time. So they are cautious till the time there is a fear of getting caught but after signal turning red, you can see at least two rows of waiting vehicles moving ahead even after signal turns red. If you are driving a motor cycle, then jumping a signal is more of art which is inversely proportionate to the attentiveness of a traffic policeman.
There is another aspect to this. Signal jumping and education are not co-related. So a person driving a luxurious car and having all the most sought after degrees and six figure salary does it with same impunity as an auto driver who is supposed to be not so educated. Another aspect to this is that as education spreads, people become richer, own swanky cars and other vehicles; incidences of signal jumping are also on rise. Old and new, bold and beautiful all do it. It has become a disease which is passing from one generation to the other as if it is part of our DNA now.
Imagine how much time will a person save who jumps five signals on his way home or office, five to seven minutes at best but how much is he contributing to the problems associated with road traffic. Apart from showing disrespect to the law, he is adding to the possibilities of road accidents, traffic jam and inconvenience to the people he comes across.
It is true that conditions of Indian roads is not good, with every passing day people have to spend more time to reach office and irritation of driving is increasing but does all this justify the act? The answer is a firm no. This increasing defiance to red signal on road shows that we as a nation have become very impatient and have started taking law very lightly.
While it is true that stricter law enforcement could take care of this problem but then why is that self-enforcement not working. After all, this is just about common sense and something we need not learn at all. The problem needs an introspection which government alone cannot do, we need to work at home for this.
If parents start questioning their ward and start inculcating that sense of discipline this problem can be handled. Police can also improve enforcement by sending e challans to law breakers. But that would be a gigantic exercise considering the infrastructure that we would require. Penalty also can help. But the most significant contribution has to come from all of us.
We just need to learn to wait. So easy to do. Let us all start it now.
By: Vivek Sharma