Bengaluru has been the country’s IT hub for many years now, owing to which the city has witnessed an astounding influx of people from all across the nation. As a burgeoning city, the need for the city’s roads to keep up with the growing population is well known, but that cannot be solely achieved by the civic authorities. What is more pertinent is to understand how we as citizens can play our part in the well-being of our city.
A recent report titled: “Road Accidents in India 2015*” revealed that Bengaluru witnessed a total of 4,828 accidents last year. The three top causes of these accidents were found to be over speeding, reckless driving and drunk driving. Obviously, it would be too simplistic to blame the infrastructure or governance for the increasing number of road mishaps. It is clearly a reflection of how much we respect the ways of the road as citizens.
In March 2014, the Bengaluru Traffic Police directed a novel experiment. They placed fake cut outs of policemen in accident prone regions. It proved to be an eye-opener and highlighted how we need to be constantly reminded by authority figures to act righteously, which brings us to the need for acting more responsibly without any incentive or fear of being caught.
Importance of citizen participation
Over the last few years, Bengaluru has seen a rise in citizen groups collaborating to maintain road safety norms in the city. While keeping the traffic situation in control at bottleneck routes, these groups are also upholding the traffic laws and bringing defaulters to check. It’s heart-warming to see the passion of Bengalureans for keeping the city safe for its commuters.
These citizen vigilantes or ‘Traffic Wardens’ are also collaborating with organisations such as Positive Strokes that engage people directly in setting up practical scenarios and explaining the threats upfront. The Traffic Police has also supported the work of these individuals and organizations to apply positive reinforcement to bring about behavioural change. We definitely need more of this spirit in the city. After all, the buck really stops with us as individual road users.
Curbing the threat of drinking and driving is in your hands
Bengaluru is the original city of pubs and we love to have a good time as much as we love our weather. All the more reason it’s necessary to take responsible drinking very seriously. Choosing an alternative is the easiest and the most responsible way to enjoy a few drinks. If you are planning a party for your friends, you must make sure one of the items on the checklist is to ensure that your guests to reach home safe and sound. Designate the person from your group who doesn’t drink to drive you back home. Call for a chauffeur, in case you brought a car. And of course, ubiquitous taxi services such as Uber and Ola are available all through the year, day and night. These entities have been a part of a nationwide road safety program- ‘Respect the Road’, launched by SABMiller India to spread the message of road safety and responsible drinking. From personal experience, it’s always better to have a good time and choose an alternative than to put your life at risk!
Basic traffic rules should rule the roost
In absence of the traffic police, we tend to quickly forget traffic laws and end up speeding, driving recklessly, ceaselessly blaring our horns and driving without caution. We need to be more attentive to basic traffic rules such as giving the pedestrian the right of way over cars, keeping to the correct side of the road, when driving or riding or even on foot. But most of all, we need to respect every individual on the road and the laws laid down by the traffic police.
Take the skywalks
As we address the conflict between the pedestrian and vehicles and how to resolve it, we look at alternatives such as Skywalks. They not only ensure safety for the pedestrians but also ease out traffic woes. We are seeing skywalks coming up across the city to enhance road safety for the road users. However, this needs to become the norm for the pedestrians who very often prefer to take the shorter route across the road divisions, putting many lives at risk.
More urban engagement and more impactful street safety initiatives
Road safety efforts need to strike a deeper emotional chord with the road users in order to make a difference. Digital is one medium where many road safety initiatives and communities are coming alive. Apart from citizen groups, Bengaluru Traffic Police has a robust presence on social media now, where not only information is disseminated but feedback and direct interactions are also encouraged.
As part of our program Respect the Road, in association with Bengaluru Traffic Police, we have seen tremendous participation from city dwellers since its launch in October 2015 in Bengaluru. The program promotes road responsibility and behavioural change towards over speeding and reckless driving and encourages people to use alternatives to drinking and driving. This programme kicked off in Gurgaon in 2011 in collaboration with the Gurgaon Traffic Police and has seen immense success in the region. After a couple of years of promoting the message, we launched India’s first ever road safety mascot- “Traffic Tau” in Gurgaon, who embodied the program and ensured the right message with a focus on positive reinforcement. Maybe it’s time for Bengaluru’s own Traffic Mascot?
But till we do get one, let’s remember to respect the road and all those who use it.
We at SocialStory are running a campaign to help citizens come together and save the city of Bengaluru from dying. Bring out those mobile phones and laptops and share with us the problems you see. Start participating with those who are working for change and share your experiences with us. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will share your experiences and ideas with our readers.