One of the most visible law enforcement activities in Srinagar, or Kashmir valley in general, is by the traffic police. Yet it is easy to see chaos on the roads and traffic rules being flouted all the time even on the busiest of the roads. Traffic police and mobile magistrates can be often seen stopping vehicles mostly not because of being seen as violating a rule but just for checking of documents and collecting fine. Traffic violations generally take place on busy streets where it is difficult to flag a vehicle on the side without creating more hindrance to the already problematic traffic flow.
Given the general condition of roads in the capital city, regulation at best is a temporary measure put in place by the traffic police authorities. The manner in which projects of road capacity enhancement are conceived and implemented makes the matters worse. Usually these are taken up without making sure that alternate routing plans are put in place beforehand. Commuters suddenly wake up to blockades and irrational re-routing. Traffic regulation is usually taken seriously temporarily just ahead of the Darbar move.
There is no gainsaying that many drivers of both public transport vehicles and well as car owners drive recklessly and carelessly without much regard to the rules or care for those who may be following rules. It is not uncommon to see drivers choking up the lane meant for traffic from the opposite side as soon as vehicular movement on a road stops because of even a temporary hindrance. Patience is rare on the roads of Kashmir in general and Srinagar in particular. Honking has almost become an epidemic, and pedestrians have no right on the road!
But what are the traffic police and authorities doing to educate a seemingly ruthless average driver, apart from chalans and collecting fine from them? One often comes across claims by the traffic department that so much money was collecting within so much time from violators. While it is legal to punish the violators by imposing fines, the money perhaps simply goes into the general government exchequer. A good and clear traffic education campaign is a rarity, if at all. The other side of traffic rule violation very often is innocence, people simply not knowing the standard rules. Sustained audio-visual campaigns for educating an average driver should be conceived which could be funded by the fine authorities collect from the violators. The available technology could be used to put up big screens at important public spaces and the campaign should be run on the local TV for making the average driver aware of not just the rules but also about the rights and responsibilities of both pedestrians and drivers on the road.