Red lights mean nothing to motorists in tearing hurry

DH counts 179 cases of vehicles jumping signals in 20 minutes at ITO Chowk

How much do we care about traffic lights? Deccan Herald decided to do a reality check at the busy ITO junction in central Delhi a day after Gopinath Munde’s death.

While we missed many, we count 179 vehicles jumping the red lights at intersection in just 20 minutes, beginning 10.15 pm.

There is a 25-second spot every four minute when all four traffic signals turn red to allow pedestrians cross the roads. Forty-one vehicles jump the signals in one such instance.

This period also appeared to be the most dangerous as unlike other times vehicles from all four directions rush to jump the red lights.

The three traffic policemen, the only ones on guard at this time of the day, are about to end their day’s work. They are not armed with challan machines and mostly remain mute spectators to the violations.

“Red light jumping is more common in the day time when traffic volume is much higher. But we do not usually stop the red light jumpers and those committing lesser offences,” says the traffic policeman who does not want to be identified.

“It is not practically possible. We stop one offender and 500 vehicles will line up behind and lead to a traffic jam,” he explains. The policeman takes us around the intersection to highlight the violations. He had tried helping us count the signal violations earlier.

Among the red light jumpers are at least two cars with beacons installed and one traffic policeman on a motorcycle who approaches the traffic signal from the wrong side of the DDU Marg before speeding away.

The closest a vehicle come to a major accident is a speeding Maruti Esteem car which jumps the red light but is unable to make it across the intersection due to a bus heading from the road on its left. Fortunately, the driver negotiates a sharp right turn in time and is forced to take a road he did not intend to.

Most traffic light violators at ITO are motorcycle, possibly because it is easier for them to squeeze ahead of  the larger vehicles and line up in front, all set to jump the signal.

One motorcycle rider, who is patiently waiting while speaking over the phone, ends the call as soon as he notices a Royal Enfield jump the signal to take Indraprastha Marg. At least nine motorcycles and two cars follow that vehicle.

CCTV cameras

The traffic junction is equipped with CCTV cameras, but that does not deter the violators. Though none of the four signals have timers on them, several commuters appear to know exactly when their signal would turn green, and make a dash two to four seconds before they should have. “These are the regular commuters on this route,” says the policeman.

To avoid their number plates being read by the policemen or the cameras, some of them switch off the tail lights immediately upon jumping the signal and switch them on again some distance later.

At one point, a car jumps a red light only to be caught amidst several vehicles approaching from the other end. Only after a standoff with at least two vehicles is the motorist allowed passage.

Meanwhile, the policeman stopped the flow of traffic on all routes for a few seconds in between to allow an ambulance to jump the red light and take Vikas Marg.

It helps only a little as over 30 other vehicles on that route took advantage to jump the signal and once again block the ambulance’s passage some distance ahead.

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