Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blame the System: Law Makers Vs Law Breakers

Blame the systems. Yes. Blame them square.

It is human tendency to jump the queue. And where else would this be more prominent than in the roads, where commuters are not ordinary people but racers carrying the nation’s pride on their shoulders. Even those bikers and riders who somehow had all the patience to wait for the count-down of the traffic signal feel restless and totally out of place waiting idly as the numbers keep falling alarmingly in the single digits. 10: Engine on (those who had switched their engines off, that is). 9. Raise throttle. 8. Clutch and first gear (at one go). 7. Raise throttle and release clutch partially and close again so that the front suspension rises up vigorously and falls, all set to smash world records. 6. Move an inch. 5. Move a foot. 4. Move a couple of feet more. 3. Feet on the foot rest, vehicle in motion. 2. Gone! Hey folks, don’t we have 1, zero, then amber for a couple of seconds and then comes green when the throttle is sup…. Ssshhhh…which world are you in? The stone ages?

Well, that was a played-down version – normally, no one waits till 2. The sequence starts from 20 and is over by the time it’s 10 more seconds for amber.

But who is the culprit here? The bikers? The racers? The drivers? I blame the system!

In this same scenario, in the presence of a traffic constable/ police man, the outcome is not any different. The police play the abettor here. In most traffic signals, traffic policemen are visibly lazy. Can’t blame them anyway – would you want to keep standing at a place all day amidst a flurry of dust and smoke, watching floods of people go past with blaring horns? I certainly wouldn’t fancy that. Why should there be a traffic constable at all, when traffic signals are working just fine, in the first place?

Never mind the white shirts and the khakis. Then what’s the problem? The problem is that, becoming so bored at having been stationed motionlessly at one place, they start waving to the already impatient commuters to move on – even when the signal is still red – when they find a reduced stream of vehicles from the other side! They abet this behaviour of skipping the red signal! And they are the faces of law. In effect, the law says, “If you find a stupid red signal when there’s not a soul on the other side of the signal, treat the red signal as green”.

So, having been “conditioned” to keep moving in red, and because of a poor memory, our riders treat red as green even when some pathetic souls find themselves on the other side of the signal, forgetting the clause in the “law of red turns green”. The signal turns obsolete, cultured human beings become dogs scrambling for the piece of bone.

Uniformed men at traffic beats do this at every signal. One would suppose the system would have put them through an induction course and a training period of considerable duration for them to be familiar with Traffic signals and what a red coloured traffic light meant. Whether the system failed to tell the guardians of law that “Traffic rules need to be obeyed – period.” or whether the policemen failed to learn the lessons right or they forgot what they learnt, it ultimately becomes the responsibility of the system for letting traffic signals fail miserably.

How to blame poor citizens for a faulty system?