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How traffic cops harass people

Place: Traffic signal near Royapettah Clock Tower (Express Avenue)

Time : 12.30 pm

Day : Sunday, September 18, 2010

I took a left turn from Pycrofts Road (Bharati Salai) towards West
Cott Road in my bike.

I was stopped by a traffic constable.

Why,  I asked him.

There is no free left turn, he said.

No free left turn? There is no restriction here, I said.

No. There is no free left turn, he said and asked me to talk to
another cop who was busy writing a fine challan for a two-wheeler
rider.

I went and waited near him. The cop finished writing the challan
and asked the other rider to pay Rs 300 as fine. “I have only Rs 50
with me,” the guy said. “Then leave your bike here and take it after
paying the fine at the court tomorrow,” the cop told him.

The policeman then turned his attention to me. Straightaway he
assumed I was caught because I was not wearing my helmet (I had
removed it after I was stopped by the other cop). “Why were you not
wearing the helmet?” “I was wearing it,” I said. “Then why were you
stopped?”  Now, the other cop (who had stopped me) came and said, ”
He turned left without waiting for the signal.” I again insisted all
left turns were free unless otherwise indicated. “Didn’t you see the
board,” the first cop asked me. “Board? Where is it,” I asked him. He
took me along. After a few metres, he asked me,”Where is the board?
” I thought he was joking. “You said you will show the board (No
free left turn).”

“No you said you will show the board,” he said. I had always been
insisting that there was no board indicating there was no free left
turn.

Now, the signal at the junction turned green. “See, only now you
can turn left,” he said. But the signal had only one arrow – straight.
“There is no signal indicating left turn,” I pointed out. “This signal
also means you can turn left,” the cop said. He was clearly running
out of ideas.

The cops waiting for a catch

Now he pointed to a bunch of vehicles that had just tried to
turn left  and stopped after seeing the cops. “See they have stopped.
They have stopped because they know there is no free left turn,” the
policeman said. I was getting fed up. I said, “They would have just
turned left and gone ahead. They stopped because you are there.”

Now the cop dramatically hid himself behind the police vehicle and
said, “See they are not going.” I started wondering whether he was
not really joking.

I couldn’t contol myself and let out a smile. He saw me and said, ”
Why are you grinning? You may go now. Be careful. We have
installed cameras everywhere.” I said Ok and left the place.

As you can see from the photo, the signal has only one green arrow
– straight. There is no left arrow in the signal.

The signal has no arrow for left turn.

If there was no free left turn, there must be another arrow pointing
left. If there is no free left turn, there MUST be a sign indicating the fact.
Otherwise, all left turns are by default, free. There is no sign that the left turn is not free.

No sign indicating that there is no free left

5 Comments

  1. Shencottah Shencottah September 21, 2010

    Harassment by traffic police is prevailing everywhere and it is also surprising to know they talked decently without using filthy words. No, I do not drive or ride!!! I have observed these things and have seen traffic police talking nicely if they know some big cash is out there to grab.

    After reading your post, I thought I would just browse for the traffic rules. I found the following:

    1. http://driving-india.blogspot.com/
    2. http://www.savepunetraffic.com/html/summary-of-tr

    Both say this:

    At red lights, there are no free left turns.

    Please look into it.

    • dinakaran dinakaran Post author | September 21, 2010

      Dear Shengottah,

      Thanks for pointing it out. I didn't know that. I wonder whether even traffic cops know it.

      But, one of the posts says: You can take a left only when there is a green/ amber arrow explicitly permitting a left turn; or when the signal is green for all traffic.

      1. In my case, there was NO green/amber arrow for a left turn.

      2. Even in Bangalore, there are roads where it is SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED that there is NO FREE LEFT TURN. Which means there is free left turn in other roads.

      3. I have been trying to find out a proper authorised copy of traffic rules, but in vain. But the two blogs/sites are quite informative.

      4. The Delhi trafffic police site says this: Sometimes you are allowed to turn left or right too, unless separate signs exist for each direction. if turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians and vehicles from other directions.

  2. Bharat Bharat September 20, 2010

    Brilliant. Good show, Dinakar, in not letting your nerve fail you, just becos two cops confronted you! I doubled over with laughter a couple of times, reading this piece!

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