Pune Traffic

Traffic Enforcement Measures - a Case for Pune

Introduction

Violations of traffic laws result in the needless death of thousands of individuals and injury to many more each year. Many of the deaths and injuries would not have occurred if drivers had obeyed the existing traffic laws. For over forty years, jurisdictions around the world have successfully used photo-enforcement to reduce the violent death and injuries caused by these violations. Enforcement of red light, rail, speed, and toll laws through the uses of photo-technology is a practical and cost effective method to reduce traffic accidents. India does not have advanced photo technology systems for enforcement on a large scale yet.

It is sad but true that there is very little awareness amongst the ruling elite, the politicians and bureaucrats, regarding the tremendous economic loss that the country suffers due to the ill effects of lack of enforcement of traffic rules. This figure could go in crores of rupees although I am not aware of any city in India where the city planners have even computed the figure of economic losses due to traffic congestion and accidents.

Preview

This paper covers various aspects of traffic enforcement measures, with particular reference to Pune to bring out how the different parts of the whole transportation system, that is, traffic planning, traffic demand management, parking management, traffic safety management and traffic enforcement measures are interwoven and mere enforcement of rules is not the ultimate in solving traffic problems.

Considering the traffic system as a whole, including the role and resources of the police, it is clear that enforcement based on very high subjective detection probabilities only, will not achieve, even on a satisfactory level, the compliance of all traffic rules. Enforcement is part of the whole transportation system and is not stand-alone. One has to analyse the causes for frequent traffic violations and then choose a combination of systems best suited after diagnosing the causes.

Before adopting the system of punishments for violations and depending wholly on the law enforcement agencies, it is prudent to consider infrastructural and other remedies. Traffic law enforcement is a complex process that includes zero vision or zero tolerance schemes, breath-testing technology for drunken driving (including mobile units) and photo-technology. For law enforcement to succeed, public support is essential. In Pune particularly, it is not only the public but the elected representatives also appear reluctant to implement traffic enforcement measures.

Enforcement - Part of Entire Transportation System and not Stand-Alone

Consequently, the fundamental issue when assessing traffic enforcement is not the principle of deterrence, but the need for increasing enforcement based on deterrence. The common perception is that deterrence principle works in practice and punishments are cost effective. We, therefore, expect a police person at every traffic junction, at every traffic light and at every place where we expect a traffic violation. We, however, never think that deploying a large police force means that the transport management systems have failed. Controlling driver behaviour by means of a threat of punishment is a clear indication that safety management is insufficient, and that the traffic management systems are not functioning as integrated wholes. The systems that require integration are:

§ Traffic Planning,

§ Traffic Demand Management including Parking,

§ Traffic Safety Management,

§ Traffic Enforcement Measures

There are a number of examples outside the transport system, in which the infrastructure design itself largely eliminates the possibility of human error resulting in fatal accidents. This is generally not the case within transportation systems. However, newer inexpensive concepts such as bus rapid transit (BRT) in the transport systems provide us with many opportunities to create environments where deterrence may not be necessary. Road users have many constraints that are well recognised. These pertain to the way road users gain access to, process and use information while driving.

There is subjectivity in acquisition, processing and using the information and their applicability largely depends on individual traits, training and background. High speeds particularly accentuate this phenomenon when drivers are unable to enhance their information processing skill resulting in events overtaking their ability to apply the knowledge, which could well be only half-processed. This applies more to low occurrence probabilities or accidents. Additionally, high speeds are rewarding and exciting to a majority of drivers and human nature compels the drivers to take advantage of the opportunities when high speeds go unnoticed or unpunished. Similarly, overtaking from the left is a great temptation as also passing quickly in front of an animal crossing the road rather than from behind. Normally, it is essential to pass an animal from behind because an animal’s instinctive reaction is to charge forward if something suddenly comes in front unlike a human being who steps back.

Causes for Frequent Violations

The most common violations resulting in accidents are speeding and overtaking from the wrong side. Complementary violations are jumping traffic signals and entering one-way streets. In other words, the desire is to reach the destination earliest and at any cost. That is, even at the cost of breaking traffic rules. Generally, the individual reaps positive consequences of breaking traffic rules rather than negative. Hence, it becomes more a part of the driving habit to drive in this manner and the illegal system catches on. In Pune, people are amazed if a driver follows traffic rules and they nudge you on if you actually stop at a red signal, especially if a police person is not present!

It is only at the systemic level that the one can appreciate the problems of speeding. A considerable amount of traffic violations are committed accidentally and do not involve deliberate risk taking. In the situation obtaining in Pune, the average driver does not perceive that his behaviour in violating the four cardinal rules (of not over-speeding, not overtaking from the wrong side, not jumping traffic signals and not going against the one-way rule,) does not make sense. Traffic planners can eliminate many of these violations merely by improving the road infrastructure rather than punishing drivers for something their perceptual-motivational system dictates. As per the European Accident Investigation Team’s reports, even in serious head-on collisions, less than one-third (30%) can be classified as deliberate risk taking (Karttunen, 1995). In the remaining 70% of cases, a number of measures other than police enforcement - often associated with improved road infrastructure - could have prevented the accidents.

Improving Road Infrastructure and other Remedies

Improved road infrastructure can substantially reduce the need for enforcement. There are actually a number of measures that, when applied extensively, could to a large extent substitute enforcement. These include road humps or speed breakers, road dividers, physically segregated lanes, small roundabouts, sophisticated traffic signal systems, and in-vehicle/infrastructure supported telematics systems such as intelligent speed-limiters or alcohol-interlocks.

According to the Royal Society of Prevention of Accidents (24 Sep. 2001), ”Despite the existing requirement for top-speed limiters on the heaviest vehicles, over 80% of HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) and 50% of coaches and buses exceed the speed limits on dual carriageways. On single carriageways, well over 60% of HGVs and 23% of buses and coaches exceed the limits”. RoSPA believes that the ultimate aim should be to have intelligent speed limiters fitted to all road-going vehicles, including cars, as a long-term aim that will depend on the results of on-going research and trials.

Sustainable safety

The concept of sustainable safety is part of road safety philosophy. According to this concept, tackling the causes underlying accidents and removing areas of conflict or making these controllable by road users can best guarantee road safety. Where accidents still occur, there should be virtual elimination of the risk of serious injury. The Dutch government has adopted the concept of sustainable traffic safety as an official policy. According to the sustainable safe traffic vision, intrinsic parameters of the traffic system such as road design, vehicle design, and road-vehicle interaction should preferably control vehicle speeds rather than measures such as enforcement that are mainly intended for flanking support.

In the short and medium term, police-enforcement is still necessary to influence speeding. Once speeding is part of a better functioning safety management system, traffic enforcement can concentrate on fewer problem areas without the need for ever-increasing resources that increased traffic volumes create. One of the great challenges currently facing traffic enforcement is to recognise that it is essentially impossible to improve traffic behaviour by means of police forces alone. Police enforcement is an indispensable part of traffic safety management where other measures are also important. The vast number of speeding, wrong overtaking, and other bulk offences will continue to generate accidents.

Traffic Law Enforcement

India needs to establish a national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which should be responsible for reducing injuries, deaths, and economic losses resulting from vehicle accidents. Its mission should be to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related health care and other economic costs.

An economic analysis is necessary to compute the loss due to bad traffic planning. NHTSA will assist law enforcement by maintaining the integrity of the tools used by law enforcement in the performance of their duties. For example, it would be impractical and too expensive for each law enforcement agency to set up test laboratories to assure that the speed measuring devices they want to use meet model performance specifications. Thus, NHTSA laboratories test speed measurement equipment so that law enforcement agencies only need to check that the equipment they purchase is NHTSA approved.

Zero vision or Zero Tolerance Scheme (ZTS)

The Pune traffic police in the past have taken a number of initiatives such as, no right turns (NRT), one-way roads, lane discipline, mike announcements at intersections and ZTS. Traffic reforms, however, will fail unless citizens obey the rules under these schemes and the administration creates an environment for passage of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. ZTS strikes at the root of traffic disorder. The main culprits in this regard are 2-wheelers because of their sheer numbers: 10 lakhs in a region of 30 lakhs populace. 2-wheelers per lakh of population thus come to an astronomical 33000 or one for every three Punekars, perhaps the highest in the world. Moreover, every year Pune adds about 70000 to 80000 x 2-wheelers. Inevitably, traffic situation becomes precarious requiring drastic solutions. Along with reducing the number of vehicles on the roads, ZTS is a concept that strikes at the root of traffic disorder. The idea to carry out the checks by the type of vehicles is good and application of ZTS by types of vehicles and offences, and along specific routes are three ways to apply zero vision to control traffic chaos. Punishments should be constructive or reformative and not destructive. Thus, the concept behind ZTS is to educate, motivate and dissuade the citizens.

Sweden was the first country to introduce the zero-tolerance principle (Tingvall, 1999). The basis for this vision is the ethical principle derived from road users’ abilities and needs. The design and construction of the transport system is to serve all citizens and ensure that a human error in traffic should not lead to a severe injury. The ultimate goal of traffic enforcement, therefore, is zero fatalities.

Hence, the design and construction must be such that it should be impossible for drivers to make fatal errors or that mistakes will not result in fatal accidents. Zero tolerance also means sharing the responsibility for safety. It emphases the need for the deployment of traffic police on the roads. The role of the police, however, is to concentrate on serious misconduct and in an educational role to impress upon the drivers the consequences of rash and negligent driving.

The idea of concentrating routinely on a few serious offences works well. In New York for instance, the traffic police concentrate on drunken driving, jumping signals and crossing the white/amber lines. Once caught, the punishments are severe such as impounding of vehicles in addition to marking the licences. In Pune, however, such stringent measures would immediately draw criticism. The most common traffic violations in Pune are jumping traffic signals, entering one-way streets, overtaking from the wrong side and over speeding. There is very little enforcement of pollution control rules. Motorcycle mounted police officers should carry out surprise checks to checkmate the seasoned lawbreaker dodging police checks by changing routes.

Let us consider how the no-tolerance zone experiment fared in Pune. The police tried it on Jungli Maharaj Road from near the Engineering College hostels up to Khandoji Baba Chowk, a stretch of over four km. It only confirmed the general tendency of drivers to violate traffic rules. The traffic police and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) tried out this zero vision concept between 16 to 21 December 2001 during the peak morning and evening hours. The police had given adequate publicity for the trial Zero Tolerance Scheme. Thus, the drivers well aware that their documentation would be under police scrutiny in addition to the normal traffic checks.

Nearly 3,500 drivers and riders disobeyed traffic rules or they did not carry the correct documentation with them. The traffic police collection in fines was Rs 418550 from 2,923 errant motorists. Besides, the police seized driving licences of 339 persons and confiscated nine vehicles. The RTO staff detained 199 vehicles during the drive. Break-up of those who paid fines includes 1243 two-wheelers, 334 3-wheelers, 106 6-seaters rickshaws, 1206 light vehicles, which included cars, 11 PMT buses and 23 privately owned heavy vehicles.

Police records state that 758 persons faced action for failing to carry driving licences or original copies of various other documents. 448 failed to show Pollution under Control (PUC) certificate, 315 jumped signals, 102 defied no-entries and one-way curbs, 97 halted vehicles beyond stop lines and on zebra crossings after the signal turned red, 192 parked wrongly, 66 cut lanes, 24 drove rashly and 7 used loud horns.

That the ZTS experiment was a success is clear from the feedback from the public. A majority updated the vehicle documents. The pointed reactions, such as, “tolerance for police corruption” or “a little leniency because we are used to breaking laws (!)”, are an indication that ZTS made an impact.

A major snag in implementing ZTS is the introduction of new traffic rules. It is necessary to carry out a traffic count to assess its necessity of a new traffic rule such as one-way, no parking or NRT. There should be no ‘hit-and-miss’ trial. The plan then should be publicised and views of citizens obtained by holding a public meeting of the affected citizens. It is only then that the scheme succeeds. Pune has faced the unsavoury situation when the police had to withdraw the scheme of one-way on Tilak Road in 2002.

Life-Saving Benefits Linked to Traffic Tickets

The Stanford School of Medicine, (26/6/03) at the University of Toronto reported in a paper published in The Lancet that vigilant traffic law enforcement may reduce fatal car crashes. The team found that receiving a traffic ticket reduces a driver's risk of dying in a crash by 35 percent in the weeks following the citation. One million people die and 25 million people permanently disabled from traffic crashes worldwide each year.

The researchers studied public records of 8,975 drivers who had been involved in fatal crashes in Ontario between 1988 and 1998. They found the drivers had 21,501 total tickets for moving violations prior to the date of the crash, averaging about one ticket per driver every five years. The researchers found that 135 drivers had a traffic ticket in the month before the crash and 204 had a conviction in the same month one year before.

Their analysis indicated that the risk of a fatal crash in the month following a conviction was nearly 35 percent lower than in a month with no conviction. The benefit existed for drivers regardless of age, prior convictions and other personal details. The highest life-saving benefits were for drivers who had received convictions that carried a $100 fine and three penalty points against their driver's license (the penalty for exceeding the speed limit by 20 kmph). This protective effect lasted for one to two months and was insignificant after four months.

The researchers said their data also suggest that there is saving of one life for every 80,000 tickets issued; one emergency department visit is prevented for every 1,300 tickets; and $1,000 in societal cost is saved for every 13 tickets. Because traffic laws in Canada and the United States are similar, the findings should apply in both countries. Based on the data, the authors said increasing traffic enforcement measures might further reduce total deaths; conversely, inconsistent traffic enforcement could contribute to thousands of deaths each year. They said their findings could help determine the allocation of scarce police resources toward traffic safety efforts and could result in informed debates on the use of new enforcement technologies such as cameras that snap pictures of red-light runners.

The researchers acknowledged that the public might not welcome the exploration of additional traffic enforcement. "The major impediment to general traffic enforcement is a lack of public support," the researchers note in the paper. "Unlike vaccination or other preventive care, individuals are not gracious at the prospect of a conviction and often resist with subterfuge or argument." This finding is a global phenomenon. In Pune, even the public representatives including the Mayor came on the streets against the use of helmets. The Mayor’s political party had passed the law of making wearing of helmets compulsory for 2-wheelers riders. The corporators also came on the streets during the ZTS implementation in 2001 because they contended that there is harassment to citizens when the police check documentation and penalise them for traffic offences! The public largely supports law enforcement but on an individual level, most drivers commit violations and attempt, as best they can, to avoid detection and sanctions.

In India, there is no system of marking driving licences or ensuring that the authorities do not issue bogus duplicate driving licences. Even the system of issuing driving licences is very lax, which is a major cause of accidents.

Long-term Sustainable Concept for Traffic & Transportation Policy

The long-term sustainable concept to control traffic is to offer freedom of mobility to Punekars by improving public transport rather than giving them the freedom of choice for a personalised vehicle. The race to match this uncontrolled growth of vehicles with more and wider roads, flyovers, HCMTR, elevated roads, etc is uneven. An efficient public transport system should take the public faster at affordable rates to their destinations and with more comfort, especially during peak hours, which in turn will minimise the creation of additional road infrastructure.

The Peter Principle, which says that more the office space more the number of occupants and more the useless work that they create. It is the same thing in traffic. More the number of roads, and the wider the roads; more and more traffic, especially passenger cars, would ply on them. A study revealed, “In the Californian context every 1 % increase in lane miles induces 0.9% increase in vehicle travel within 5 years - almost wiping out all the expected benefit. In Asian context with greater latent demand, the effect may be even stronger.” Hanson, Mark. 1995. Do Highways Generate Traffic? - From "Taking Steps: “SUSTRAN.”

In Mumbai, BEST carries 51% commuters but occupies only 4% of road space. Taxis and cars take up as much as 96 % (12% and 84% respectively) and carry only 49 % traffic (32 % and 17 % respectively). Therefore, when you build flyovers; the major beneficiary is private and not public transport. The priority should be for tackling the traffic problem by discouraging private vehicles on the road, easily achieved by giving a thrust to public transportation, cycling and walking. The statistics of trips by mode are revealing; only 1% each by car and rail, 5% by 3-wheelers and 16% by 2-wheelers while bus (22%), walk (32%) and cycle (18%) form 72% of the total trips by mode in Pune. In fact, citizens see propensity on the part of the authorities to opt for costly options rather than adopt measures that hardly cost anything. The traffic planners should have first worked out the reduction in the use of private vehicles after putting into effect a well thought out plan to strengthen public transport and creating facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. And, after that, they should plan for the resultant traffic over a long-term say 25 years.

Drivers and even pedestrians and cyclists break traffic laws if there is traffic congestion or traffic jams. This is normal human psychology. In Pune, the problem is lack of a road hierarchy. All premises (buildings, areas of land etc.) require access on foot. They also need sufficiently close access by particular categories of motor vehicles to enable people with impaired mobility, emergency services such as fire and ambulance, and the vehicles delivering heavy items of goods, to reach the properties. Providing such access will usually enable access by bicycle and at least the smaller motorized two wheelers. The functional hierarchy of roads comes from the need to reconcile in a single design the functions of providing for the efficient movement of motor vehicles with those for other transport and non-transport uses such as pedestrians and cyclists. It is strongly influenced by the idea that any motor vehicle travelling between a particular origin and destination should intrude as little as practicable into the living areas that it has to pass through on its journey and in the paths of pedestrians and cyclists. Though such an ideal may only be fully achievable in new developments, it does not mean that one should not strive to achieve the ideal in existing established neighbourhoods in the city.

More importantly, it is necessary to reduce the number of passenger vehicles on the road so that traffic is easily negotiable and result in no or little traffic offences. This is only possible by rejuvenating public transport. It is thus necessary to improve bus transport and introduce bus rapid transit and metro as per the needs of traffic volumes and land-use. These methods have proved successful all over the world and Pune Municipal Corporation needs to apply these to Pune.

The base of all mass transit systems such as BRT, LRT (tram), elevated rail or Metro is to have a good public transport system that would cover the areas that the MTS do not. The Pune Municipal Transport is a neglected lot and the politicians and officials have done precious little to give this basic service to the citizens of Pune. A public transport norm is to have between 45 and 60 buses per lakh of population to provide this basic amenity. In Pune, the ratio is just 20 for the past several decades. However, the number of buses (including private) per lakh of population in Delhi is about 100 and even then there is shortage.

Pune needs to encourage non-motorised transport (e.g. walk and cycles). Even in the planned BRTS Pilot Project Hadapsar-Swar Gate-Katraj, PMC has failed to plan a cycle track throughout the corridor. Actually, footpaths and cycle tracks are an essential and inescapable part of a BRT System. The planning for the pilot BRTS only substantiates the general feeling among Pune citizens that mass transit systems are the stepchildren to be ill treated and truncated. If Pune can separate the fast moving traffic from the slow moving ones, there would be less traffic snarls.

The use of private passenger vehicles should be expensive by hiking registration and other levies (pollution, horsepower, etc) coupled with high parking charges to dissuade a motorist to use his vehicle during peak hours of traffic. We need to use parking as a demand management tool by charging heavy parking fees and restricting parking spaces to discourage the use of private vehicles. Industries should consider pay and park even for their own employees in factory and office premises to dissuade employees from bringing their personal vehicles to the office/factory. Motorists do not switch over to public transport if the fares are cheap but only if operating a car is prohibitive.

The PMC has twisted the concept of high capacity mass transport routes (HCMTR) to accommodate private passenger vehicles. PMC is planning elevated roads and tunnels for passenger vehicles. Actually, the PMC builds BRT, plans a metro and makes a show of strengthening and building the capacity of PMT but on the other hand, provides undue facilities to passenger cars. The industry norm for a HCMTR is that it is only for public transport, intermediate public transport (3-wheelers and taxies) and emergency vehicles and not for cars.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Violations of traffic laws result in the needless death of thousands of individuals and injury to many more each year. There is very little awareness amongst the ruling elite, the politicians and bureaucrats, regarding the tremendous economic loss that the country suffers due to the ill effects of lack of enforcement of traffic rules. This figure could go in crores of rupees for each metropolitan city although city planners in India have not even computed the figure of economic losses due to traffic congestion and accidents.

Enforcement is part of the whole transportation system and is not stand-alone. It is not prudent to adopt the system of punishments for violations and depend wholly on the law enforcement agencies. Controlling driver behaviour by means of a threat of punishment is a clear indication that safety management is insufficient, and that the traffic management systems are not functioning as integrated wholes. The systems that require integration are traffic planning, traffic demand management including parking, traffic safety management and traffic enforcement measures.

Infrastructure design itself largely eliminates the possibility of human error resulting in fatal accidents. There are actually a number of measures that, when applied extensively, could to a large extent substitute enforcement. These include speed breakers; road dividers; physically segregated lanes for fast and slow moving vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians; sophisticated traffic signal systems; and telematics systems such as intelligent speed-limiters.

According to the concept of sustainable safety, tackling the causes underlying accidents and removing areas of conflict or making these controllable by road users can best guarantee road safety. Zero Tolerance System strikes at the root of traffic disorder and Pune Police should practice it at regular intervals.

India needs to establish a national Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which should be responsible for reducing injuries, deaths, and economic losses resulting from vehicle accidents. Its mission should be to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related health care and other economic costs.

The long-term sustainable concept to control traffic is to offer freedom of mobility to Punekars by improving public transport rather than giving them the freedom of choice for a personalised vehicle. The race to match uncontrolled growth of vehicles with more and wider roads, flyovers, HCMTR, elevated roads, etc is uneven. An efficient public transport system should take the public faster at affordable rates to their destinations and with more comfort, especially during peak hours, which in turn will minimise the necessity to create additional road infrastructure.

The base of all mass transit systems such as BRT, LRT (tram), elevated rail or Metro is to have a good public transport system that would cover the areas that the MTS do not. More importantly, it is necessary to reduce the number of passenger vehicles on the road so that traffic is easily negotiable and result in no or little traffic offences. The use of private passenger vehicles should be expensive by hiking registration and other levies coupled with high parking charges. We need to use parking as a demand management tool by charging heavy parking fees and restricting parking spaces to discourage the use of private vehicles. Industries should consider pay and park even for their own employees in factory and office premises to dissuade employees from bringing their personal vehicles to the office/factory.

Maj. Gen. S. C. N. Jatar, Retd
A 102 Neel Sadan
1426 Sadashiv Peth
Pune 411 030 
09/11/06