The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Just whistle out loud to tame the traffic

Don’t dare jump that red light again — the police will surely blow the whistle on you.

In a shrill move to curb the growing traffic chaos in town, the police have decided to go back to the good ol’ whistle. A few thousand of these hi-decibel devices of discipline have already been distributed among cops at the crossroads.

The rise in road-rule violations and accidents has prompted the police to pull out the whistles. “They are the surest way of drawing the attention of drivers, as well as pedestrians. We have just started using them again and the results have been most encouraging,” says Sandhi Mukherjee, special additional commissioner of police.

Till about a decade ago, all traffic policemen would use the whistle. But gradually, the traffic tool was forgotten, with only a handful of constables continuing to use it, sparingly, says an official of the traffic department.

This Durga puja, the police near various popular pandals used the whistle successfully to control crowds and ensure free flow of traffic. It not only forced drivers slowing down to catch a glimpse of pandals to speed up, but also prompted pedestrians to toe the cop line and not stray from their demarcated darshan lanes. The part that the whistle played in the police’s puja-management has prompted its large-scale re-introduction, officers said.

Around 2,500 whistles have been distributed among the force — right from the inspector to the constable — working under 11 traffic-guards. Only officers of the deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner ranks will not have whistles tucked away in their left shirt pocket.

Now, 9.5 lakh cars hit the city streets every day, a figure 40 per cent higher than that of 1997. Also, with stereos blaring from every other car, it’s no longer enough for the constable to shout out loud and slam the brakes on a traffic-rule violator.

“The high-frequency sound of the whistle can draw the attention of the driver or the pedestrian even at the most noisy and chaotic crossroad,” assures Mukherjee. “This will make it easier for the traffic force to reduce the number of violations and lower road-accident figures.”

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