Sunday, April 18, 2021
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Drivers’ Woes

Once, many years back, an international study indicated that Traffic Control was the most stressfuljob. In todays scenario, things have changed for the worse, but the Traffic Control job is still definitely one of the most stressful. Another stressful job is that of Driving. It is for this reason, one must be extra careful. But no matter what, mistakes can happen, sometimes with serious consequences. Alertness on both sides only can avert danger.
But there are many drivers who are lost in their own world, with mobile phones and all, who are a nuisance and hazard to everyone around them. Then we have the occasional careless drivers, who can also cause serious damage. In the same breath let me add that traffic cops too should be alert at all times. We sometimes see them too engrossed with their mobile phones or gossiping away, oblivious of the snarling traffic, particularly at important cross-roads. This allows for rash-driving by rogue drivers, a class we appear to have in abundance.
Most traffic personnel we see on duty on a daily basis are very decent and highly tolerant people. Their presence also cheer us up, as there is order on the roads. But we sometimes get to encounter the occasional rogue traffic policemen who have no respect for any one, or for that matter,their uniforms. Let me put it in the form of an example. On my way from Kohima to Dimapur I crossed the Green Park junction at around 8:15 am on 15th April 2019. Due to major highway works, traffic was slow. A car came from the parkside to cross the highway in the opposite direction. The Traffic Controller put his right hand across the car, with his fingers pointed towards me while his left hand was moving aimlessly, which I took as a signal to continue. A firm, full palm in my direction I know is a ‘STOP’ sign. However, as I reached the junction the wild-eyed cop grabbed a stone and appeared as if to smash my vehicle, while screaming his lungs off. I shouted back in anger because of his wrong signal. It was very clear his mind was not on his job. Being stressed out is understood, but that is no excuse at 8:15 in the morning. In any disciplined police force, politeness is the norm, even under trying conditions. Of course we do not expect police personnel to remain polite and get bashed up during a rampage by a violent mob.
I have been victim of another such incident of wrong signal and choice abusive language on an earlier occasion in Kohima town as well. While this rot by a few rogue elements is very frustrating, the embarrassment forces most drivers to make hasty departures.Surely something can be done by the concerned department; perhaps periodic Orientation and Destressing. This will go a long way in bringing some semblance of sanity on our cratered roads (thankfully some road are being repaired). We wish our Traffic Cops take cognisance and book rash drivers, but please spare us the physical intimidation and verbal abuse.
Prof. G.T. Thong

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