April 26th, 2006


Lack of lane discipline in traffic....

I have thought long and hard about this problem of lack of lane discipline.The reasons for this are:

Roads that are really too narrow to enforce lane discipline. It is like a liquid pouring through a bottleneck...every vehicle jostles to get ahead before the next stoppage happens.

Widened roads, including highways, are often unfinished at the sides, with loose earth waiting to entrap heavy vehicles. Especially after the rains, no truck or bus wants to go in the slow lane if it is going to mean getting stuck in mud, with the consequences of expense and delay. To me this is a very prime reason why most heavy vehicles hog the centre of a divided road. This, of course, throws the rest of the traffic out of kilter as they weave through.

Lack of awareness of even a basic sort amongst vehicle users.

Apathy that is almost total. If *I* can get ahead, that's enough.What do I care about other road-users?

Extreme manouverability amongst autorickshaws. When the turning circle is so small, there is a great temptation to squeeze through hold-ups.

The stretches where lane discipline can be enforced abruptly narrow into single-lane stretches and this defeats the whole idea.

I am somehow not very gungho about lane discipline inculcation being a success in Bangalore. This is because I have seen it being attempted on a one-km stretch Mount Road in Chennai, which has 3 lanes each way; one is reserved for buses and other heavy vehicles, one for cars, and one for two and three wheelers. I have watched the experiment in action for over 5 years, and it is a disaster, and soon degenerates into chaos, until the next enforcement is done.

It's a kind of chicken-and-egg thing...good roads first, or good driving first? I do know, however, that even in law-abiding cities like Muscat in Oman, the Indian area becomes chaotic and hassled during high-traffic times...so I personally am not able to think of any practicable, workable solution to this problem.

Our new highways are, because of the lack of lane-discipline, far more dangerous than the old roads were. As high speeds become possible, so do the chances of collisions and accidents which will result in horrific injuries or fatalities.

Sad that I am posting an analysis of the problem without being able to postulate any solution.

This post was brought about because of an email from varshax, which said:

I was thinking about the traffic situation in Bangalore today. Roads are bad no doubt, but it seems to me that lack of lane discipline exacerbates the problems. Is there a public awareness initiative in Bangalore that tries to tackle this issue ? Has there been an initiative that failed ? I wonder if it is naive to think that we can make a difference in this direction if we tried. I remember someone saying that the autowalla's are not even aware of the concept. If the benefits were explained to them, maybe they would listen ? What are your thoughts Andy ? Start with a few roads and spread the word ..... the results of the experiment would be very interesting. Too bad our group is mostly based out of Bangalore ...... but if the right residents (who are able to approach this with an open mind) put in the effort maybe they can make a difference. If it takes off, they could be the new NRNs of Bangalore :)