Why we (in India) don’t stop at traffic signal.

India is a land of diversity. Our behavior towards following traffic rules is also quite diverse. I move around Indian metro cities- Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and tier 2 cities like Jaipur etc. I have seen people stop at red signals in all of the metro cities. There will be few who would cross them but most people stop. Or maybe they stop at all the important signal where there is a policeman waiting to catch them. At other unmanned signals, no one cares to follow the signal. Still, let’s give it to the metro cities.
Let’s come to tier 2 cities. The case in point is Jaipur where I have been spending some time lately. People follow the signals on all the manned crossings. Again few are there who will break it. On unmanned signal where there is no policeman to watch them or to catch they will not stop. Let’s see how people in this tier 2 city behave on an unmanned signal. These observations are based on my personal experience while driving in the city.

Observations:

1. By default, people will not stop even if the signal is red.

2. If you try to follow the signal and stop you will be honked, people will shout at you and keep on honking at you so that you can give them some space and they can wiggle out.

3. You get very bad stares for ‘blocking the traffic’ while you stand and wait for the signal to change to green.

4. You can get banged! Yes if you are waiting for the signal to change to green on an unmanned crossing there is a high chance that a car or a minibus will bang you. It happened to my colleague. She stopped at a signal and a minibus banged her and her scooter from behind. After that, the bus driver was arguing why did you stop madame!

5. Another example- my brother stopped at a signal while he was going for his morning walk at around 7 AM. A car came and brushed my brother’s car from the side. It stopped a little ahead. Two women came out and started yelling “why have you stopped the car”. My brother showed the signal (it was still red). And then the 2 women said, “no one stops at a signal in the morning”. Really? Is this the excuse!

6. All these people who break signals are educated, working somewhere. They do not have an excuse of illiteracy.

7. There are some people who will stop their vehicle at the signal if they see someone waiting. Which is good. I stop at signals and I can see a lot of people joining in once they see me standing and waiting for my turn.

I sometimes wonder what can be an excuse for all these so-called literate, well-educated people to abuse the system and not follow the rules made for their own benefit? Most of these people have traveled abroad to developed countries and have seen the culture and discipline there. These people are the one who praises the civilized culture, the systematic behavior of people, the strict laws etc. What happens to them when they come back home? I am sure they dare not litter or break any signal in the US or Europe. What happens to them when they come to India. I always wonder.

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