Chaotic, mismanaged and so wasteful.. yes does it ever occur to us, how much do traffic chaos and perpetual jams reek of inefficiency of the system that we live in. Just as consumers are today accused of inordinate and wasteful consumption of resources, right from the amount of electricity that we use to water that flows down the drain (there are few people who believe in setting the temperature of the Air conditioners to a 25 degree celsius which is equally comfortable rather than a 22 degrees but reduces power consumption by upto 30% and few who would rather use the taps than showers for the daily bath routine).
Coming back to traffic jams, I often pontificate sitting in the sea of vehicles around me..how much of fuel is getting guzzled at that very moment - a hundred - a thousand - perhaps ten thousands of vehicles if one was to go by the news reports of the past two days, waiting for upto an hour must have consumed close to - on the basis of a conservative basis about 300,000 litres of fuel extra !! An average annual consumption figure of fuel per household would not be more than 2000 litres.
The root problem lies within all stakeholders - civic administration and it is encouraging to see that steps are being taken to haul them up.. for criminal proceedings..as has appeared on certain news channels, but also the traffic police - for sheer uneducated and unaware resources who are completely unmindful of the impact. Leave alone the impact, they are not even equipped to handle how to defuse a traffic jam situation efficiently. I will come to that aspect in a while.
However, the people behind the vehicles emerge as the single biggest reasons for causing traffic problems. A little patience, common sense and genorisity in a traffic jam situation can clear the path for all quickly, with minimal fuss. However, in the haste to get ahead (and thereby create mutliple lanes) and beat the jam (on the contrary, such moves cause even more delays) the situation soon becomes completely chaotic. To give you an example, I commute a road which has no traffic lights for a large part, but is single lane and wide enough for three vehicles to pass comfortably. However, in the event of a vehicle breakdown, one finds drivers in 3 -4 lanes in each direction, hence a situation of a gridlock. The traffic cops would come in after about 20-30 minutes, when the situation is completely chaotic and then begin clearing traffic from the right side first, thereby ensuring that drivers (for lack of any other words else they should be called morons behind the wheel) who jumped the queue get rewarded instead of issuing challans on the spot. Imagine, the system is providing incentives to such people by allowing them a quick passage instead of punishing them and setting examples so that none of the drivers ape them. In such a situation, the temptation to 'beat the queue' and rush ahead from the side becomes stronger - however fruitless it may be. One must avoid doing this at all costs, for sanity amongst majority remains the only hope. Importantly, one can even try and instill a sense of discipline in others, by ensuring driving such that dual lane formations do not happen easily for ones behind one's vehicle.
The bottomline is that if each of us strives to be disciplined and drive in our own lanes, and follow a system, traffic jams would be far and few. Till then, keep fuming and twiddling your thumbs behind the wheel !! We have only ourselves to blame.
Diclaimer : Part of this blog was written while I waited yesterday in one such jam.