Embracing Traffic Lights: A Public Responsibility

Imti Longchar

The Dimapur Traffic Police on July 25 launched the Improvised Traffic Control System (ITCS) at the city’s two crucial junctions-Holy Cross Traffic Point and Nagarjan Traffic Point. This much needed upgrade in the city’s traffic management system was initiated under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). 

NCAP in a flagship programme launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India to tackle air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner by engaging all stakeholders. 

Commissioner of Police Kevithuto Sophie, at the inaugural of the traffic lights signal system, went on record to state that this is only a beginning as a model concept to cleaner air and called upon every commuter from the city, from other districts as well the neighbouring states to abide by the traffic rules and signal lights. 

Calling upon citizens to bring about behavioural changes and take responsibility for clean environment, the CP remarked that while everyone is aware that we are now living in a polluted world, there are only talks and no work. 

Nagaland Pollution Control Board (NPDB) member secretary and NCAP nodal officer K Hukato Chishi during the inaugural said initiatives such as ITCS is important in any cities or towns where there are intersections because it causes heavy traffic emitting smoke and cause air pollutions. He also disclosed that Dimapur does not meet the air quality standards set by Central Pollution Control Board. 

Initially, the ITCS will be manually controlled from the booth and will not be operational 24/7. The newly installed traffic lights will be manned by traffic police on its stands for about a month in order to let the commuter familarise with the system. If the plan succeeds, the system will be extended to other junctions. And from there, to an intelligent control system where there will be one controller room which will monitor the whole city traffic through CCTVs. 

The CP made it clear though- this can be only possible with collective responsibility from the citizens. One critical aspects of this collective responsibility is obeying the traffic signals. Traffic lights are not a novelty. Their significance lies in providing organized and regulated movements at intersections, ensuring safety of pedestrians and drivers alike. In simple words, red means stop, yellow means caution and green means go-simple yet crucial instructions that, when followed can significantly reduce accidents and ease traffic congestions. 

This isn’t the first time traffic light signals is being introduced in Dimapur. If we can recall, traffic lights were introduced in Dimapur in the early 90s and then in the millennium year. These initiatives were short lived. These previous attempts were marred with technical glitches, inadequate infrastructure and lack of public awareness. 

Just imagine lens of the traffic lights being made into target practice from miscreants or rouge drivers, without much a glance ahead, hurtling across the illuminated red lights onto the intersection.  

That was atleast two decades ago. Today, we need to chew over that the return of traffic lights is not just about controlling the flow of vehicles; it will also be about how far we have come as a community, as individuals, and as a society and how our mentality have evolved as individuals behind the wheels. 

So how far have we as a citizens adhering to responsible driving etiquette evolved? It is with great concern to observe that an alarming numbers of drivers still choose to disregard traffic laws, putting their own convenience above the well being of their fellow citizens. 

Every day, the roads are battlegrounds of recklessness and egoism with blatant disregard for traffic signals, wrong side driving, improper lane changes, tailgating and lane-swerving to name a few. Such behavior reflects a dangerous culture. The irresponsibility and selfishness of traffic violators poses a serious threat to public safety. 

Installing traffic lights is a crucial step in creating a more organized flow of traffic. But we must also recognize that the primary responsibility is with the individuals behind the wheel. 

Beyond easing traffic congestion, we should be aware that by optimizing traffic flow, we are actively participating in considerable reduction in carbon emissions and fuel consumptions. Transportation sector remains a major contributor of pollution. From harmful greenhouse gas emissions to particulate matter that affects air quality, vehicular traffic plays a central role in polluting our surroundings. 

We fail to grasp the direct connection between their driving habits and pollution levels, or say, the environmental consequences of idling engines, unnecessary acceleration, and non compliance with emission standards. It becomes imperative that we recognize the role of individual behavioural change in curbing pollution and, specifically how adhering to traffic rules can contribute significantly to the cause. 

Comments can be sent to [email protected]