The Commonwealth Games brought out the 'model driver' in every Delhiite.
So much so, that everyone from Union home minister P. Chidambaram to Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal couldn't resist patting Delhiites on the back.
“We can say that the Commonwealth Games changed the behaviour of Delhiites for the better. I hope whatever change has come about remains forever. People must drive in lanes, people must not park cars in non-parking areas, must not jump red lights. People must learn to respect policemen and policewomen," Chidambaram had said on October 15.
The number of fatal accidents also halved and prosecution for traffic-related offences reduced by more than eight times during the Games. And this was possible because of fewer vehicles on the road, heavy deployment of security personnel, harsher penalties for traffic violations and both private buses and goods carriers being kept off the roads,
"Managing traffic during the Commonwealth Games was easier and smoother than ever before. Though the strict penalty for traffic violation played a major role, we couldn't have pulled it off without the average Delhiite's decision to use public transport which led to a reduction in the volume of traffic," said Satyendra Garg, joint police commissioner (traffic).
The Delhi Police started asking people to use public transport well before the Games began on October 3.
A larger fleet of air-conditioned, low-floor Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and a widely publicised shuttle service to ferry spectators to Games venues ensured that even VIPs such as Members of Parliament (MPs) and senior bureaucrats left their luxury four-wheelers at home during the Games' opening and closing ceremonies.
"The Delhi Metro's two new lines -one connecting Qutub Minar to Gurgaon and the other connecting Central Secretariat to Sarita Vihar -along with the fleet of comfortable DTC buses made public transport more viable for Delhiites and helped reduce a sizeable chunk of personal vehicles off the road," said a senior Delhi Traffic Police officer.
Road discipline of the kind exhibited during the Games, however, cannot be sustained in the long run unless Delhiites leave their personal four wheelers - the Capital presently boasts of more than 65 lakh of them - at home more often.
“We can't take goods vehicles off the roads during daytime any longer nor can we impose harsher penalties which are much better deterrents. With a vehicular population exceeding 65 lakh, lack of parking space, lesser legal provisions and meagre fines for traffic violations, the discipline on Delhi roads will become limited only during the Games," the officer added.