Remote eyes for red lights
Two cameras at this signal in South Chennai, but are they looking at anything? Photo: M. Karunakaran

The report that the driver of an SETC bus decided to jump a red signal and rammed three vehicles, nearly killing an 18-month old baby, shocking the inmates and causing bruises to one person became spectacular apparently only because it "destroyed three cars."

One would imagine that in such instances, the damage to our metal chariots is of less consequence than the trauma and shock we suffer on two counts: of the bodily injury we suffer, howsoever minor, and the realisation that bus drivers, whether they work for the government corporations or private entities, think nothing of red signals.

Our shock is naturally followed by disappointment, because most law-abiding motorists have no way of proving that it was the bus driver who actually caused an accident. We could, I suppose, if there was a good CCTV system for all traffic signals that the Chennai Police have been talking about for more than a year.

There are two points that need action here: the Police must publish a list of functional traffic cameras in Chennai metropolitan area and neighbouring Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts. Such junctions should have a clear board indicating that there is a CCTV in operation, which should at least put the fear of the law in rogue drivers. So far, even cameras installed in the heart of the city do not work and talk of e-challans for erring drivers is not backed up with CCTV evidence.

Second, all transport drivers (working in public transport) must by law be compelled to have a working GPS device in their pocket. This will help determine the speed at which the particular vehicle has been moving, and whether it has conveniently stopped at some location en route, to provide some business to a 'friendly' hotelier.

Today, even mobile phones at the lower end of the spectrum have started offering GPS facility. All that the driver needs to do is to keep it on, and on his person. When he is driving, the information is automatically fed in. If this is thought through, we might have a 'black box' for buses like the one that rammed the three cars near Chennai airport.

A more extensive system of in-vehicle camera system has been discussed here in a previous Urban Jungle column.

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