Thursday, March 25, 2010

Traffic Cops … What exactly is their ‘duty’?

Mumbai's Traffic Cop's duty is to control traffic or collect fines ?

On so many occasions I have seen traffic cops leaving the junctions and standing about 100-150 feet away waiting to pounce on vehicles while there is traffic chaos at the junction. Even when the junction does not have a traffic light or has a faulty one … and the traffic is going for a toss. I have seen this situation several times near MIDC/SEEPZ where the traffic is pretty bad on a regular basis.

On so many occasions I have seen multiple traffic cops standing together chatting and strategizing how to catch and which one (vehicle) to catch while the traffic situation at the junction goes for a toss.

The worst is watching up to 6 ... yes, you read it right, it is SIX, traffic cops standing in the same spot. Yes, that's the situation I often witness under the Western Express flyover of Andheri where the traffic from the eastern side pours onto the highway and crosses under to go towards the East-West flyover and Telli Galli. Anyone who has travelled on that road during peak hours would know that this particular road is jam packed.

There is a working traffic light here and as such there is no need for 6 traffic cops here. Now that they are actually there, why don't they actually do some good work by controlling the traffic situation by systematically spreading on all sides of the junction, coordinating with each other and not allowing vehicles to idle bang in the middle of the junction; a situation often created when the signal is Green but the road ahead is jam packed. The idling vehicles in the junction STOP the flow of vehicles in all other direction when the signal goes red and vehicles travelling in other direction need to move.

 No. The traffic cops are NOT there to control or ease out the traffic. This junction provides a very good opportunity to them to collect fines from vehicles. Looking at the traffic situation, people often make a on-the-spot decision and change their route to avoid traffic. The traffic cops watch out for them and catch them when they change tracks. Or they pounce on the 2-wheelers who try to move ahead from the sides wherever they get some space often emerging on the left side of the road when they actually have to go right. When they try to cross over, the traffic cops are there to catch them. This is their favorite catch and hence all 6-7 of them stand at a particular spot … waiting for this kind of catch.

Wish someone high up in traffic control department begins to survey, inspect and review the way of working of the department people. The primary goal of the traffic cop should be to control and ease out the traffic and NOT just to stand there and collect fine while the traffic goes into a chaos.

Of course, Traffic cops are not all bad. There are some who actually understand Traffic Control and stand there right in the middle trying their best to ease out the traffic. They use their brains and their intuition to work out the best possible flow of traffic. I am all praises for them. They don't concentrate on who can be caught. They concentrate to achieve a situation when no one needs to jump a signal or need to be caught.

Wish Mumbai Traffic Control had more of these good cops and less of the Bad ones who have conveniently forgotten what actually their role is.



  1. I see it as a systemic problem ... Bombay traffic is beyond these cops - they know it .. some have given up on it and are happy making money out of it .. other struggle without success.

    The only solution to this is a traffic control system like New York / Sydney with speeding cameras installed across the city and monitored from a central hub. All traffic lights too need to be controlled from the central hub. I had heard on radio about an year back that the MH Govt had allocated a couple of crores for such a move ,,,

  2. same type of cops exist here too!