Road safety – Situation in Delhi

Dear Friends,

As per our Constitution, Right to Life is a Fundamental Right which includes road safety, breathable Air and drinkable Water quality. Ironically, value for life is nil in our Country. Constitutionally guaranteed Right to Assembly and Mobility are in jeopardy if our roads are not safe for people. There is no dearth of laws, rules and regulations governing traffic on roads in our States and Country as a whole. Enforcement of laws is only in the breach. In 2006, Delhi authorities said,” Delhi will have a new legislation for pedestrian rights and traffic segregation.

That was more for high capacity bus system rather than pedestrian safety. Even otherwise coverage under HCBS seems stuck in controversies and Court cases.

New Delhi and States have laws that govern vehicles and offences under traffic violations. Comprehensive insurance and third party insurance take care of compensation for loss of limb and life. Accidents can be prevented if pedestrian facilities on roads are provided at least as per existing laws/rules and regulations and due care is taken at the time of issuing driving licenses and effective enforcement of traffic rules and regulations is ensured.

A senior transport department official said: “All the countries protect their pedestrians well. There are heavy penalties levied on people who hit pedestrians. But here, we do not have specific guidelines to govern where to create pedestrian walkways, who should have the right of way, or what should be the waiting time for pedestrians at crossings. The new legislation would deal with all these issues too. Singapore, for instance, has heavy penalties like cancellation of driving license for hitting a pedestrian or causing grievous injuries to him.”   New systems like push-button pedestrian crossing would also be introduced. This involves pressing a button, which turns the traffic signal on an arterial road red for vehicles, for pedestrians to cross. (Times Of India,Oct 23, 2006)

Push button – pedestrian signals are yet to be introduced. Not even stop lines before many of the Zebra crossings exist. Pedestrian crossings near many Hospitals and even Schools are yet to be provided. Signs of Pedestrian crossings at many places including Metros, Hospitals and Schools are only in English. One fails to understand why Delhi Transport Department could not enforce the existing traffic rules to ensure the safety of pedestrians.



The existing rules in favour of the Pedestrians in Delhi are:

DO NOT CROSS THE STOP LINE painted on the road when you stop at a road junction or intersection or a pedestrian crossing. In no case should your stationary vehicle project,beyond this line.

DO NOT PARK at or near a road crossing or on top of a hill or on a footpath; too near a traffic light or pedestrian crossing; on a main road or a road with heavy traffic; in front of or opposite another parked vehicle to cause obstruction; on roads that have a white line; near a bus- stop, school or hospital entrance; right next to a traffic sign thereby blocking it for others; at the entrance of a building; near a fire hydrant thereby blocking access to it; where parking is specifically prohibited.

SLOW DOWN at road junctions, intersections, pedestrian crossings and road corners and wait until you are sure of a clear passage ahead. if you are entering a main road where traffic is not being regulated, give way to vehicles passing on your right.

Drivers often forget that roads are not just for them alone. This can make things difficult on the road for pedestrians, cyclists, scooterists and motor cyclists who do not have solid protections around them. They are entitled to your care and consideration. Always keep a close watch on other road users. Children, for example, may do unexpected things. Elderly pedestrians may move more slowly than you expect or may not see or hear you until you are too close.

ALWAYS GIVE WAY TO PEDESTRIANS: if there is danger to their safety. Take extra care if they are children or elderly people. There are some obvious places and times where you should take extra care like shopping centres, busy intersections, schools, parks and residential areas where children and others have a greater need of crossing the road. Also, in wet weather, people may hurry and take risks. At night remember that pedestrians may not always be aware how hard it can be for you to see them. Be careful when approaching parked cars or buses. It is difficult to see or anticipate people crossing from behind them. Slow down at pedestrian crossings or intersections, specially if you are turning.

You must give way to pedestrians on a pedestrian crossing. This means you must approach the crossing at a speed which will let you stop in time. Not all pedestrians look before they step onto a crossing. So watch out for anyone approaching and be ready to stop. You must stop if a pedestrian is on a school crossing. This applies even if there is no crossing  supervisor present. Stop at the stop line until all pedestrians are off the crossing.

DO NOT OVERTAKE another vehicle that has stopped at a pedestrian school crossing. That driver may have stopped, or may be stopping, for a pedestrian you cannot see. If a vehicle has stopped at a pedestrian crossing, intersection or railway crossing, do not overtake it.

YOU MUST GIVE WAY to pedestrians when you are entering or leaving private property such as a driveway. If you cannot see whether anyone is coming, sound your horn and then drive out very slowly.

CYCLISTS AND MOTORCYCLISTS have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of   larger vehicles. When overtaking cyclists, leave at least one metre clearance. Don’t try to share the lane with them. Cycle riders are entitled to ride two abreast. Also, when you are about to alight from your car, check for bicycle riders or scooterists to avoid opening your door in their path. Children on cycles can also be unpredictable. Take extra care of them. Bicycles scooters and motorcycles are smaller than cars and therefore harder to see. A common cause of accidents is the failure of a right-turning driver to notice an oncoming motorcycle as motorcycle accelerate much faster than cars. What appears to be a safe gap in traffic may not be if there is an oncoming motorcycle or a scooter.
Bicycles can travel surprisingly fast. 30 km/h is not unusual. Drivers can easily underestimate their speed. Be careful not to cut them off when turning in front of them.
Most motorcycle crashes happen at intersections. Before turning, or entering an intersection, have one more look to make sure there’s no motorcycle or bicycle there. Motorcyclists and cyclists can be hidden by trucks and buses which are overtaking them. Only move left or turn left from behind a large vehicle when you are sure the road is clear.

There are fewer cars on the road at night. This does not increase your safety in any manner. This is because speeds are higher, people and bicycles are difficult to see and other motorists or pedestrians may have been drinking. Drive slowly and you will be able to react better. At higher speeds, the stopping distance exceeds the seeing distance thereby causing accidents.

HOW TO STOP QUICKLY: The best way to stop quickly is to drive slowly. Sometimes, unexpected things happen quickly. A driver can pull out of a side street without warning. A pedestrian can suddenly step out from behind a parked car. A truck can drop some of its load. A scooterist or motorcyclist could hit a pot-hole and fall off. If you are travelling too fast, it may be difficult to avoid an accident.

RIGHT OF WAY: Give way to fire engines and ambulances by driving your vehicles to the side of the road. Give way to pedestrians at crossings that are not regulated.

TURNING: Remember to give way to pedestrians when turning to the left. When turning right, make proper hand or indicator signal, move as close to the centre line as possible and Turn only when there is no oncoming vehicle.

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