Demanding traffic management

Traffic management is seen often in the context of the planned strategy at ensuring that road users comply with traffic rules with safety

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Masud Khabeki

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there were1.35 million road traffic deaths globally in 2016 and between 20 to 50 million people suffered non-fatal injuries and/or disabilities. The majority of these collisions occurred in low-and middle-income countries and involved vulnerable road users—pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In addition, road traffic collisions are the leading killer of those 15–29 years of age. More than 90% of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in these countries, which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles. Road traffic fatality rates remain unacceptably high in the contents of Africa and South east Asia, where they are considerably higher than the 18.2 per 100 000 population global average. The situation has urged the United Nations to develop a global plan for the road safety that include road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash response. The member countries were supposed to adopt the strategies to develop programs to improve road safety of their citizens.

Traffic management is seen often in the context of the planned strategy at ensuring that road users comply with traffic rules with safety. To some, it is policing and monitoring of traffic as well as enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. However, traffic management is a conscious effort at controlling, coordinating and supervising movement of vehicles on a particular road network, for instance in urban cities, rural areas, residential estates and local communities etc. This has an objective to ensure free flow of traffic and avoidance of traffic congestion and delay at certain points by increasing road capacity and most importantly preventing road crashes (accident). Traffic management is concerned with the application of a range of traffic engineering and administrative techniques and is regarded as a systematic and sustained effort aimed at directing and controlling all traffics on our roads to make them free of the negative effects of the transport system.

Traffic planning and management is a growing problem particularly in countries like Pakistan still being considered as under-developed. Managing traffic has become an issue not only in our urban areas but in rural areas as well. But it is more important and essential, especially in urban centers as life relies more on vehicular movement (road transportation) for various daily activities. On daily basis people go to work, school, shopping etc. creating scrambling for the right-of-way among all road users. The issues evolving in this struggle are referred as “traffic conflict” (traffic bottlenecks or crashes). Therefore, traffic planning and management is required to resolve traffic conflicts in order to ensure free flow of traffic and safe motoring particularly in our urban cities.

Traffic management has evolved as a body of knowledge in the advance countries but still considered a very new concept in our country. Interestingly not a single school or university ever offered a single course related to this discipline. It is considered the only duty of traffic police or traffic managers is to deal with issues of traffic management without educating public or the commuters who are always considered as the main contributor of the traffic mess or congestions. Consequently, due to lack of research in the field of traffic management we have a little data or literature available on the subject. There are few efforts tend to come from the field of study pertaining to Civil or Highway Engineering while a little can also be found in Urban Planning. Majority of practitioners in this field have to travel abroad for training and interestingly police or traffic managers are never considered before planning roads in the metropolitans.

The Global Plan adopted by the UN for the safety of road users has provided an opportunity to realize the importance of road safety and an urgent need to strengthen institutional capacity to further national road safety efforts within the member sates. It includes activities such as putting into practice major United Nations road safety conventions, establishing a lead agency for road safety in the country involving partners from a range of sectors, developing a national road safety strategy and setting realistic and long-term targets for related activities with sufficient funding for their implementation. It also calls for development of data systems to monitor and evaluate activities. It further stresses and highlighted the need to improve the safety of road networks for the benefit of all road users, especially the most vulnerable the pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. The strategies have to form having clear directions to adopt a safety-conscious planning, design, construction and operation of roads by making sure that roads are regularly assessed for safety and encouraging relevant authorities to consider all forms of transport and types of safe infrastructure when they respond to the mobility needs of road users. The third part of the program was to ensure an improved vehicle safety standard by encouraging harmonization of relevant global standards and mechanisms to accelerate the uptake of new technologies which impact on safety. It includes activities such as implementing new car assessment programs so that consumers are aware of the safety performance of vehicles and trying to ensure that all new motor vehicles are equipped with minimum safety features, such as seat belts. Other activities covered include promoting more widespread use of crash avoidance technologies with proven effectiveness, such as electronic stability control and anti-lock braking systems. There remains a realization for developing comprehensive programs to improve road user behavior. This include activities encouraging the development and adoption of model road safety legislation and sustained or increased enforcement of road safety laws and standards. These efforts are combined with public awareness and education to increase seatbelt and helmet wearing and to reduce drinking and driving, speeding and other risks. It also calls for activities to reduce work-related road traffic injuries and promotes the establishment of graduated driver licensing programs for novice drivers. It was estimated that the actions would help to reduce the level of road traffic deaths around the world and may help to reduce at least 5 million lives in a decade.

The growing concern for urban traffic problems we are faced has propelled the need for the establishment of traffic management agency. There is dire need to develop literature that will serve as training material for the traffic managers. The principle of four 4 Es in Traffic Management, namely, Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation, has become important template around the world and we must follow this pattern. Furthermore, we have to work for the road safety programs for the designing of safer road infrastructure, road user’s behavioral re-modification, development of enforcement mechanism via establishment of Road Safety Agency and after crash care. These are issues that can no longer be treated with levity by traffic management sector.