How to follow traffic signals in India?

Does the question remind you of your school days? RED light signals to STOP, YELLOW to GO SLOW and GREEN to GO. With maths, grammar, and scientific formulas, the traffic signal lights were are taught to us in school. However, by the time we get our driving licence, the learnings about traffic lights are long forgotten. This is evident if you happen to spend some time observing the chaos at any busy traffic signal in your city.

There are 3 types of people in India.

  1. People who NEVER follow traffic signals
  2. People who follow traffic signals based ON CONDITIONS
  3. People who ALWAYS follow traffic signals

Let me explain each of the category above in detail and suggest you how to spot and deal with them.

People who NEVER follow traffic signals:-

On a traffic signal, these people are easy to spot.

They are experts in JUMPING red lights and they do this very confidently. They pass the red light as if the traffic signal never existed at all. Or if they happen to slow down or stop, you will find them looking left and right then zooming off.

Vehicles such as Cabs, Rickshaws, Public transport buses and a large number of 2 wheelers are part of this group. Even private four-wheeled vehicles sometimes are part of this group.

It is important to know how to deal with these people. If you are at a traffic light that just turned GREEN, then don’t launch like a rocket. Anticipate or have room to get surprised by a member of this group when you start. Similarly, if you are about to cross a traffic signal that is already GREEN then reduce your speed (instead of increasing to catch the GREEN light) and expect somebody to jump their RED light!

If you are going to stop for a RED light (or may be YELLOW light if you too cautious) then keep an eye on the rear view mirror as you apply the brake. Best is to pump your brake a couple of times so that the flickering brake light grabs the attention of the vehicles behind. Chances are high that they will notice and stop.

Else if you get a feeling looking at the rear view mirror that the person is too fast to stop then you can brake late, or gradually get your vehicle on the left side making way for the person behind you to jump the RED light. This will surely help you to NOT get bumped from behind. I go a step further and turn ON the hazard lights every time I have to make a stop at a traffic signal letting the people behind know about my intention.

That is not it, when you are the first person behind the zebra crossing on a RED light, you will have the members of this group honking at you. Without getting frustrated, simply make way by driving to left and let him try their luck with the danger. You should also do this when you have an emergency vehicle such as an Ambulance behind you. You should and always make way for Ambulances.

This is the largest group among the 3 groups and the most dangers one too as they create unfavorable scenarios on the road putting themselves and others in danger. Once you know how to spot them and deal with them you are at a much lower risk.

People who follow traffic signals based ON CONDITIONS:-

These are the group people who understand the risk of jumping RED lights and yet do it to save time by evaluating the conditions around. Let me explain you.

The flow of traffic at a majority of traffic signals is not constant all throughout the day. During the morning, the flow is strong from one side while in the evening it is the other way round. The members of this group know this and then they conveniently jump the RED light in the direction of the flow. These people travel on these roads everyday and hence they know the traffic lights there very well, but folks who are new on these roads such as tourists or pedestrians do get surprised and frustrated.

Like I mentioned above, these people mostly jump RED lights in a group. It is a mass violation of traffic lights! I am sure you must have experienced this at least once. You are patiently waiting for the light to go GREEN and you see a vehicle jumping the RED light. Soon, a few of them follow and then the vehicle behind you honks impatiently. You either hold your nerves with frustration or let go and join the crowd in a mass violation of RED light.

So are the people of this group LESS dangerous? No, not all, jumping a RED light is always dangerous. But at times you have to join this group to avoid frustration.

Also, I believe not all traffic lights do justice to the flow traffic on all roads. With all the SMART technology around us, it is high time that the traffic lights should also GO SMART now. They should adapt and change the timing patterns according to the time of the day and as per the flow of the traffic. The goal should be that RED light should be ON for lower time in the direction of the heavy traffic.

I did a quick Google search about “Smart Traffic lights in India” that generated a lot of information, but I am yet to experience it anywhere in India.

People who ALWAYS follow traffic signals:-

These people are the ideal citizens of the country. But it takes immense commitment to be them after all the frustration that one has to go through generated by the above 2 groups. I am happy to see more and more people following traffic lights and their number is increasing day by day. I am trying my best to be one of them.

Dealing with them is very simple, you just have to follow the traffic rules that were taught to us in our school days.  If majority of us join this group, our roads will be much safer and we will see more disciple on traffic signals which as of now are dangerous spot to be, waiting for an another mishap to happen.

Before I end this article, I want you to take a look at the below clip from the movie “Ferrari Ki Sawari”. The Hero of the movie who is also a dad voluntarily pays fine for jumping the traffic signal. No policeman sees it, but his son witnesses it. To set a good example he pays the fine!

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