Whereas the Mumbai police are taking punitive motion towards honkers, scientific measures and appeals to the civility and psychology of street customers would work higher in the long term
By Rajbir Deswal
There are various kinds of drivers on the planet—the impatient queue-cutter, the street hog, the bully, the go-by-the-book one and the compulsive honker. The final class isn’t appreciated anyplace on the planet.
Disciplined drivers in lots of international locations not often honk, besides in disgust as a reprimand or to sound an alarm. Nearer residence, the honk is a signature tune and could be amended to swimsuit each event. A honk ruins all serenity and civility on the roads. All around the sub-continent, be it for a marriage or a funeral, honking takes completely different decibel ranges. If the sunshine turns inexperienced, honk. To announce that you’ve got arrived, honk. To overhaul, honk laborious. To name a buddy from his flat, honk tougher. To match a beat on the stereo system, preserve honking. To warning a blind man crossing the street, honk once more. The listing can go on and on.
The Mumbai police has now devised a plan to nip this cacophony within the bud. A pilot programme launched final 12 months is now being expanded. Underneath it, decibel meters will likely be put in at 5 site visitors alerts across the metropolis to curb the menace of extreme honking. To unfold consciousness, the police tweeted a video explaining that if honking exceeds a sure decibel restrict, motorists will find yourself spending extra time ready for the site visitors mild to show inexperienced.
The Joint Police Commissioner (Visitors), Mumbai, Madhukar Pandey, defined that the decibel screens have been related to site visitors alerts across the Island Metropolis, and when the cacophony exceeded the harmful 85-decibel mark on account of unnecessary honking, the sign timer would reset, entailing double ready time for automobiles.
The police had twice earlier carried out trials of this initiative and acquired a combined response from the general public which was confused as to why the alerts have been taking longer to alter color. Officers launched the video forward of the enlargement within the hope of spreading consciousness amongst motorists. The query is, can this work in different cities of India?
Taking a cue from their counterparts in Mumbai, the Karnataka police may even be implementing an identical venture. Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao reportedly mentioned: “Although honking isn’t as critical an issue in Bengaluru as in Mumbai, we’re planning to implement the system at main site visitors junctions to inculcate street self-discipline.” Rao has reportedly tasked the joint commissioner of site visitors police with figuring out main junctions within the metropolis for replicating the Mumbai mannequin. Even in any other case, Bengaluru is understood for devising new strategies of site visitors management and laws. The town’s site visitors issues have led many industries to shift elsewhere.
Chandigarh too has its personal method of coping with the menace of honking. The modern superintendent of site visitors of Chandigarh, Shashank Anand, has introduced out new schemes on this regard. There was a drive launched in 2018 known as “Make Chandigarh Honk-free Marketing campaign”. It addressed street security facets like not blowing the horn unnecessarily, lane driving, proper of method, not utilizing stress horns, not altering silencers, particularly on bikes, not overspeeding, respecting the rights of pedestrians and cyclists, and different initiatives.
Anand mentioned that greater than 50,000 “I Will Not Honk” stickers have been distributed among the many common public. The Chandigarh Visitors Police additionally ran advertisements and appeals in main newspapers, on FM radio, at multiplexes and thru bulk SMSs.
“At current, we’re making drivers of Ola, Uber and different taxi unions conscious of this marketing campaign. Consciousness in numerous colleges, schools and public locations is being unfold via lectures and site visitors marshals,” he advised India Authorized. On this regard, the site visitors police is working along with numerous radio stations similar to 94.three MY FM and 93.5 Crimson FM, the Indian Medical Affiliation Chandigarh, HDFC Financial institution, Chandigarh Rotary Membership and Royal Enfield.
The police has additionally began enforcement towards automobiles which blow their horns unnecessarily in silent zones. Throughout this marketing campaign, 700 challans have been issued. These caught honking could be penalised with a Rs 1,000 superb. Part 177 of the Motor Automobiles Act, 1988, prescribes a penalty for honking.
Elsewhere on the planet, site visitors is extra regulated than in India. And it’s not punitive in nature. Highway customers themselves take care to not flout norms. For critical violations, their licences could be cancelled or suspended for a while. Singapore leads all international locations on this regard. There isn’t any honking there and automobiles are so managed by the state that one household can’t personal a couple of automotive. One has to qualify to get a Certificates of Entitlement which is a really expensive affair. Thus, a street consumer can not afford to lose his licence for site visitors violations.
In Amsterdam, there may be a lot human site visitors on the roads that one is extra more likely to be hit by a bicycle than a automotive or a tram. Neglect honking, one received’t even hear the tinkle of a bicycle bell. Strain horns are unheard-of there.
In western international locations, emphasis is given to others’ proper on the street. The appropriate of method idea is “to yield” and “not usurp”. Any violation is unsparing. Sure, there could be some honking every so often, however the driver appears justified in doing so and is seen as a sufferer of some violation by one other driver. Therefore, this sort of honking is usually discounted in favour of the honker and a gentle reprimand is issued.
Whereas driving from Seattle to Mount Rainier, I noticed that folks in small cities and cities en route had adopted highways. Littering on them was against the law. Even reporting an errant driver might name for a superb from him. Urinating on highways entailed a superb of $1,000. Even overtaking was allowed provided that one might see the dotted white line forward, in any other case one needed to keep in queue. Nobody is allowed to alter lanes until it’s not detrimental to different drivers.
In comparison with the US, drivers in Canada are a bit informal. Within the Netherlands, all highways passing via cities and cities have sound-cutters lest the site visitors sounds disturb residents alongside. In London, nobody overtakes a funeral van out of respect for the departed. Visitors in Bangkok is unhealthy. However in Bali, regardless of an enormous quantity of site visitors and fewer highways, there appear to be no violations. There are a whole lot of bikes and scooters on the roads at any level of time, however nobody honks. It was solely in France that I as soon as heard steady blaring of celebratory horns. Onlookers have been bemused and tolerant because it was a uncommon event.
Honking is a menace not just for wholesome folks but additionally for many who are ailing. Honking close to hospitals, academic establishments and spiritual locations is a strict no-no. The Mumbai mannequin could also be good, however it’s not an enduring resolution to the issue. The necessity of the hour is to create fixed communication with folks about stopping this unhealthy behavior, fairly akin to anti-tobacco campaigns.
The issue must be addressed successfully. Such endeavours might work offered they’re designed based on the ideas of site visitors engineering. Reasonably than adopting a punitive strategy, extra scientific measures must be taken. Civility and interesting to the psychology of street customers in recognising the rights of different commuters are the necessity of the hour.
—The author is a retired IPS officer and a practising advocate within the Punjab and Haryana Excessive Court docket
Lead pic: Honking in site visitors jams is a menace in Mumbai. The town police has put in decibel meters at very important intersections to detect horn noise. It has additionally put up indicators, “Honk Extra Wait Extra”