To Foster the Right of Way

In Traffic Rules, Left is correct, Right is wrong

Jack T Chakhesang

Since two decades, yours truly has been walking about two kilometers a day---whether I’m going for some work or just as an early morning or evening walk. It is a sort of exercise for maintaining good and robust health.

In Dimapur and Kohima particularly, as I walk steadily on either of the footpaths on both sides of the street, on several occasions, some pedestrians---men, women, teens, even children--- if coming behind me, tend to overtake from my left side. Some of those coming towards me also try to pass me on my left side. At times I tell them politely, “Left side is correct; traffic rules, please!”


These days most people are always in a hurry to go where they want whether on foot or in a vehicle. Pedestrians don’t normally get into a mishap as such, but I wonder as I have noticed some drivers speed up to overtake another vehicle and many a time from the left side---and that too on busy highways. No wonder, accidents happen causing fatalities, injuries and collateral damage major or minor. Needless to say, the traffic law takes its course involving Traffic Police, offender, victims(s) and even court cases. Daily newspapers, international, national, regional and local carry reports of vehicles ramming into each other at high speeds, or that the driver lost control due to steering wheel or brake failure, tyre  burst and the like. Or natural calamity like rock slides, erosion of road and/or weak bridge due to long negligence. Sometimes it is due to reckless driving after guzzling a peg or mug too many.

Be that as it may, we have to appreciate why there are Traffic Rules and Regulations and an extant Traffic Police Branch in the Police Department. The Traffic Police personnel, men and women, do a commendable job for six hours duty continuously daily in heat and rain. They save many lives. Are they then not dedicated national workers?


An example of traffic rules adherence is if and when you care to see somewhere or the other an anthill to which you will notice ants moving along almost in a straight line and carrying a grain of rice, seed or some such edible heavier than their individual weights almost in a straight line. In a parallel line ants which have deposited their loads inside the anthill return to the loading area. They are busy during the hot summer months storing up food for the cold winter. What is remarkable is that the parallel lines of ants moving to and fro are regulated by designated ants. The ants may be black, red, brown, white but their traffic rules remain the same

If ants can be so disciplined, we humans could learn a lesson or two from their hard work, and perseverance for survival. An Aesop’s fable tells that while ants are busy in their toil, the grasshoppers fiddled away their summer days and so perished in the cold due to hunger.


Just a few days ago, the Police have installed Improved Control Traffic System (ICTS) in some heavy traffic congested points with red light indicating “Stop” sign, Green to “Go” and Yellow (Amber?) indicating transitory caution to stop at the white-painted lines at traffic crossings.

In most developed countries like the USA and European countries, they follow the right hand way. That is, their traffic moves on the right hand side of the road. It also means that the steering wheel is on the left hand side of the vehicle. India along with the Commonwealth countries use the British traffic system which means we move on the left side of the road. Hence the driver’s seat is on the right side of the vehicle.

The Kohima District administration has advised two-wheeler taxis to move on the right side of vehicles moving in the same direction so as to facilitate easy and safe movement. The two-wheeler taxis are operated by self-employed youth and they can be identified by their yellow helmets. Their passengers do not wear helmets. Heaven forbid but if some unforeseen and/or unfortunate mishap occurs if the passenger is NOT gripping the side handhold, he/she is likely to zoom off into the air at about 60 (sixty) degrees angle in the forward motion.


Some years ago, I boarded the NST bus which departs Kohima for a town in my native Phek District at 11.30 am. As we approached Tin Patti Junction, someone in the rear shouted “Side!” twice which the driver apparently did not hear. So the passenger rushed forward and hit him on the back of his head distracting him for a few seconds but he deftly managed avoid a near mishap.

The driver stopped the bus, approached the Traffic Constable on duty at the juenction and made a complaint. He wanted the passenger off the bus but this was not complied with. Finally a phone call was made to the North P.S. and soon an ASI turned up and took the passenger was taken away. By then an hour had gone by.


Before resuming our journey, the driver told the passengers, “I am responsible for your lives so I drive carefully. If you want me to stop, there is a proper way of conveying it instead of hitting me on the head and that too from behind. Luckily, by the grace of our Almighty God we avoided an accident on this heavily congested road.”


The incident cited above implies that we, the citizens, as stakeholders in fostering a harmonious community atmosphere must develop, inculcate and display more civic sense. This quality also applies to curbing the haphazard way we tend to throw plastic and glass bottles, food packages et al on the roadsides and carelessly even onto the drains which eventually clogs up. So, pollution is gradually spread out into the atmosphere adversely affecting human and animal health.

Civic sense covers so many aspects of daily life including being polite at all times, patient by being slow to anger and non-violent. It impacts the lives of each and every one of us for better or worse.
So, Good Will and Good Luck wherever and whenever you move on.